What is fair trade?

What is fair trade?

22 April, 2013
Buy with conscience
A Hong Kong guide for caring consumers
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Ever thought about the origins of the coffee you drink or the tomato in your salad? Most likely from countries such as Ethiopia, Ecuador, and Mexico. Farmers from many parts of the world, especially in the South, are struggling to make ends meet as they are unable to negotiate fair prices for their crops. With poor infrastructure, transportation, and market information, farmers need to depend on intermediaries to sell their crops to and often get exploited by selling their harvests at low prices. To help individual farmers and family-owned farms, fair trade co-operatives have been set up that help educate farmers about sustainable methods of farming, while helping them to establish relationships in the fair trade market for higher crop prices.
 
Compared to conventional international trade, fair trade brings consumers and producers closer together, such that consumers can directly help producers through their purchasing power. By negotiating prices directly with buyers, producers can reduce their likelihood of financial exploitation. For consumers, buying fair trade means that every time a purchase is made, the trading partnership is one that is based on mutual dialogue, transparency and respect.
 
To help identify fair trade products, the Fairtrade Labelling Organization International (FLO) and World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) have set up international fair trade producer standards to certify related products. Criteria for social, economic and environmental sustainability as well as principles for proper working conditions, wages, gender equity, transparency and more have to be met before products can be certified.
 
In Hong Kong, there are over 60 outlets that sell fair trade products ranging from coffee, tea, chocolate, dried fruit, herbs and more. Along with Fair Trade Hong Kong, Oxfam Hong Kong is also a major supporter of fair trade and fair trade education. There are a number of fair trade fairs throughout the year, such as the very popular Fair Trade Fortnight in March, to promote public awareness on fair trade.
 
For more information about fair trade products, visit www.fairtradehk.org If you are a company/organization working towards a fair trade workplace, be sure to join the Fair Trade Workplace Society found on the above website.
 
Books/Films on Fair Trade
Fair Trade: Market Driven Ethical Consumption By: C. Opal & A. Nicholls
Tangled Routes: Women, Work and Globalization on the Tomato Trail By: Deborah Barndt
50 Reasons to Buy Fair Trade By: Miles Litvinoff & John Madeley Just Coffee (2006) By: Consumers International
 
Cafes/Restaurants/Stores to Purchase Fair Trade
People’s Bookstore Cafe 1/F, 18 Russell Street, Causeway Bay
Xen Coffee Basement K-12, Manly Plaza, 995 & 997, King’s Road, Quarry Bay
Brunch Club 70 Peel Street, Soho, Central, HK 1/F, 13 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay
Fair Circle 3/F, Sang Fat Commercial House, 308 Temple Street, Jordan, Kowloon
New Life Healthy Living Specialty Shop Various locations including Discovery Bay, Tai Wai, TST Station, Nam Cheong Station
NaturoPlus Wholesome Food G/F New Sun House, 6 Sun Street, Wanchai
Fair Taste Unit 10, 13/F Wing Hang Industrial Bldg., 13-29 Kwai Hei Street, Kwai Chung Health Gate 8/F, Hung Tak Building, 106-108 Des Voeux Road, Central
Image via: The Guardian
 

By: Ecozine Staff
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