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Campaigning for fair trade regulations at international and local levels

Written by: Rohit Varier & Soubhik Mitra
Facilitator: Rene Audet
Organisation/Country: UQAM, Quebec, Canada.

Key words: Cross sectional networking, profitable diversification (of production)

Key issues debated:

· How can fair trade be an inspiration for fairer trade regulations? · How to introduce equity principles in local and regional trade? · How to have an impact on WTO negotiations and with what tools (international law, campaigns, lobbying, etc)?

Proposals : Cross sectional networking

Main theme/starting point: Fair trade works towards substantial development. It is essential to establish long-lasting relations with producers spread across the world. Self-financing is an exercise that every producer should be encouraged to practice. Fair trade is essential to regulate the manipulation of prices taking place in the free trade market. Consumers and producers have common interests.

Strategies:

Create Cross sectional networking that would help remove corruption, ensure more transparency in the trading system and give the public the opportunity to choose their economic model.

Multi-level approach:

There cannot be one strategy for all levels. The local, the provincial and the federal must approaches must be based on different strategies. This would normally comprise of demonstrations, lobbying and securing the support of other NGOs to create a social movement. It also implies improving relations between the stakeholders at every level through inter-dependency.

Territory approach:

One has to work in one province at a time. The domestic market should be developed through value addition at the local level. A rule-based system that would empower the people and establish a close link between the stakeholders, from producers to consumers, and making local products accessible to the national consumer should be evolved.

Diversification of production:

By diversifying production, the producers will be able to broaden their horizon. This means that producers should always focus on producing different products rather than sticking to one or two conventional items. The example of peasants in Madagascar who are growing vanilla along with paddy is an example for profitable diversification.

Convergence:

The most important point of convergence was on the need to make trade fair. Fair trade works towards human development and social responsibility. To have a long lasting relationship between the consumer and the producer, a relation of trust should be developed. There is also the need to find new ways to reach the concept of fair trade to the common people. In the context of the crisis arising from the WTO-brokered trade pacts, there must be special focus on promoting policies that support and encourage fair trade. This would not only help fair trade organizations, but also the cause of local development, food sovereignty, diversification of production, etc.

Divergence:

How can an organisation or movement of small time farmers execute the transport of goods and services over a larger geographical area?

Can this philosophy of fair trade be introduced into the framework of a trans-national or multinational corporates since they are armed with the modern trade infrastructure?

Emerging points:

§Awareness must be created among consumers regarding fair trade and its benefits. §The consumers and the producers must be made aware that they have a common interest. §There must be campaigns to build new trade rules which are based on the principle of fairness. §Campaign for subsidies on agricultural products of the southern countries should be launched. §The price level should be monitored and each one’s right to protect his market preserved. §Fair trade should not considered only as yet another model of trade, but as a tool to attain interaction among different communities across the world.

Presentations

Speaker: Deborah Lucchetti.
Organisation/Country: Roba (Fair Trade Forum), Italy

Key words: Fair trade regulations.

The speaker primarily discussed the nature of work that she has been involved with in Roba. Roba basically offers a platform for small time producers scattered across various interior parts of Italy to assemble their produces and provides them a good market with the intention to eventually offer them a good price. Which is not possible otherwise. In Italy itself, the organization has 400 fair trade shops. In an Italian city with a population of 600 million, 200 million have been recorded as using fair trade products.

The topics touched upon by her included how fair trade can be instrumental in grassroots empowerment. The promise shown by fair trade has actually created a buzz among the big corporations controlling the conventional trade markets, which can neither ignore them nor crush them. As a result, the big corporations are now compelled to show a constructive orientation from their side.

Speaker: Fabienne Kervaree.
organisation/Country: Federation Artisans du monde, France
Previous text: No text.


The speech was divided into three parts wherein the speaker discussed the importance of fair trade regulations at the local and the national levels with the State playing a complementary role. Regulation at the local level means using corrective actions that would help a community grow. Here the role of the State is essential because these local regulations, depending on their viability at the social or economic front, could be replicated at the national level as well.

The basic discussed was the need to put human welfare as the core of trading, balance powers and build confidence and trust between stakeholders besides networking rural based systems and creating close linkages between stakeholders.

 

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