Petition launched to stop unfair trading practices – sign now!

On 16 June the Make Fruit Fair! project - a global consortium of 19 partners including the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) from the European Union, Cameroon, Colombia, Ecuador and the Windward Islands - coordinated by Oxfam Germany – launched a petition to EU Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska calling on her to support EU-wide stronger, binding rules that stop unfair trading practices and enable small farmers, workers and EU consumers to get a fair deal.

Click here to sign the petition.

A handful of powerful supermarket chains dominate the highly concentrated European retail market and hence are the gatekeepers between European consumers and suppliers from around the world who want to sell to the European market. Together with the food industry they abuse their enormous buyer power by squeezing suppliers to keep costs extremely low and by offloading their risks onto weaker business partners. Faced with these unfair trading practices, suppliers and farmers from the EU and overseas are often intimidated into operating in a “climate of fear” with little choice but to meet buyers’ demands.

These pressures are passed on to people at the very beginning of the supply chain. Farmers have no guarantees about the payment they will receive. Workers are often forced to work long hours, for low pay in degrading conditions, exposed to harmful agrochemicals.

We work harder and harder, try to produce more and better while preserving the environment. But while our plants and fruits grow, while the profits of the supermarkets grow, the prices we receive never seem to grow. They cannot sustain a decent standard of living.” said Anton Bowman (small producer, Windward Islands)

Header pic MFF petition

The EU acknowledges the widespread nature of unfair trading practices. The European Commission defines them as “practices that grossly deviate from good commercial conduct, are contrary to good faith and fair dealing and are unilaterally imposed by one trading partner on another”. Nevertheless so far it has failed to introduce binding rules to prevent them. The Commission has opted for an assessment phase instead. Supermarkets continue to advocate for voluntary measures which will not deliver fair treatment along the supply chain. The petition is asking for credible, EU-wide enforcement against these unfair trade.

The European Year for Development 2015  represents a key opportunity to better protect producers who sell to Europe. The EU has committed itself to take account of development objectives in all policies likely to affect developing countries. However any benefits of European Development Aid are being undermined by the impact of the abusive buying practices of supermarkets and companies operating in Europe. These abusive practices deprive producers and workers in the Global South of a fair share of profits.

“I do fertilizer application in a banana company. I wish supermarkets would pay higher prices for bananas. The company could then increase my salary – my living and working conditions would change for the better.”  said Nfor Lilian (plantation worker, Cameroon)

The assessment phase of unfair trading practices ends at the beginning of 2016, when Commissioner
Bieńkowska will decide whether or not to propose stronger regulations. The Commission needs to tackle unfair trading practices in supply chains through the introduction of binding and enforceable regulation, not by supporting voluntary initiatives.

Share the petition on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags: #MakeFruitFair and #EYD2015 !

Click here to sign the petition.

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