Uniting World Mayors for Fair Trade

During the 2013 Rio Global Fair Trade Week the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) joined his fellow office holders from Seoul (South Korea), Poznan (Poland) and Oxford (United Kingdom) and other world cities in supporting the “Fair Trade Beyond 2015” Declaration. This declaration calls on world leaders to support Fair Trade in the post-2015 global sustainable development framework that will replace the Millennium Development Goals. Preliminary results were handed over to the Brazilian government.

The “Fair Trade Beyond 2015” campaign - which kicked-off at the 6th International Fair Trade Towns Conference on 10 November 2012, with the signature of the “Fair Trade Beyond 2015” Declaration by the Mayor of the host city, Poznan - has found support of numerous fellow local authorities’ leaders around the globe. From Malmö (Sweden) in the North via New Koforidua (Ghana) to Rosario (Argentina) in the South, from Milan (Italy) in the West via Cologne (Germany) to Kumamoto (Japan) in the East and from many more cities in between, local leaders are speaking out for the need to reform trade rules and practices in order to overcome inequalities and to empower small producers and marginalised workers. By signing the “Fair Trade Beyond 2015” Declaration, the Mayors of towns around the world are jointly calling for a new global framework that aims to create a just, equitable and sustainable world and to support Fair Trade as a best-practice partnership for development between governments, local authorities, businesses and citizens. Support by locally elected leaders reinforces even further the recent resolution by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an International Organisation of Parliaments who asked governments to continue to promote and support Fair Trade and to include it “as an integral component of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will be part of the post-2015 development agenda”.

During the week (26 to 31 May 2013) when Rio de Janeiro held the title “Global Fair Trade Capital”, Mayor Eduardo Paes re-confirmed the sustainability credentials of his city, host of the Earth Summit in 1992 and of the recent follow-up “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012. At the official ceremony to launch the 12th Biennial Conference of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), the signatures of the supporting Mayors were handed over to the Brazilian government Minister of Labour and Employment, Manoel Dias.

In a video address, Filip Kaczmarek - lead Member of the European Parliament, responsible for the Parliament’s input into the “Beyond 2015” discussions - congratulated the Fair Trade movement on what he regards as a campaign ”of vital importance” to ensure that “Fair Trade is core to the new agenda”. Fair Trade is to him a “key tool for sustainable development”.

In the run-up to the United Nations High-Level meeting on the global sustainable development framework that will replace the Millennium Development Goals, scheduled for 25 September 2013, the signatures of the supporting Mayors will be presented to the participating government leaders, the European Union and the United Nations. “We call on world Mayors to join their fellow colleagues in thinking globally and acting locally” stated, Sergi Corbalán, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office.

The list of signatories and further information can be found here.

Reining in the Retailers

(by Elizabeth Baines and Fiona Gooch, Traidcraft)

1. Reining in the Retailers by Simon Rawles

Consumer confidence in European retailers has taken a battering in the last few months. First the horsemeat scandal sent shockwaves throughout the continent as consumers realised they had little idea what was really going into their supermarket-bought burgers. Shortly after, the Bangladesh garment factory collapse exposed the potentially deadly consequences of corners being cut to keep costs down in the competition for high street customers.

Despite public assurances by some of the dominant European retailers that they want to improve their purchasing practices and working conditions in their supply-chains, precious little has really changed.

The food sector is a key example. Groceries markets throughout Europe are typically dominated by three to five large retailers: in the UK, four supermarkets alone (ASDA, Tesco, Morrison’s and Sainsbury’s) control over three quarters of the groceries market. This gives supermarkets enormous power over people around the world who supply and grow the food that ends up on our supermarket shelves. Suppliers wanting to access the lucrative European market have little option but to agree to whatever terms are dictated by supermarkets and compete to keep costs low – which can mean corners are cut, with sometimes tragic consequences.

Traidcraft’s research into the cashew nut supply chain shows the unacceptable impact of this price squeeze on the people producing our food.

A big price for a small nut

Cashews are a luxury treat that we enjoy in a number of ways: by themselves as a healthy snack or in products such as cakes, cereals, ready-made meals and even ice-cream. Cashews are also big business: but in the pursuit of profit it’s often the people further down the supply-chain that bear the true cost of getting this product to our supermarket shelves, working for low pay in terrible conditions brought about by the way our retailers buy.

India is one of the biggest players in the global cashew trade and processes more of these nuts than any other country. Over a quarter of the cashew nuts processed in India are sold into Europe. But only a fraction of the returns make it back to the farmers who grow the nuts and the factory workers who process and prepare them for sale.

From each bag of cashews that sells for £2.50 in a UK supermarket, less than 1p is paid to the worker in the factory. In stark contrast, the supermarket captures a whopping 41.5% of the final price. Low wages are forcing cashew factory workers into poverty, but they are reluctant to complain about pay levels for fear of losing their jobs. One worker told us that ‘if we ask […] then they say the factory will close’.

In addition to unacceptably low pay, cashew factory conditions often show little regard for the health and safety of the workers. The process of removing the outer shell from the cashew nut kernel is mainly carried out by women, who often spend all day crouched on small wooden stalls, hitting the nut with a wooden baton to break it open. The oil from the shells is acidic, and in many cases workers are not provided with gloves or other protection for their hands, resulting in blistering to the skin. The dust created as the nuts are broken open causes infections and can damage workers’ eyesight, while the roasting process releases an acrid smoke which causes nausea and headaches.

A local community worker explained how the women’s working conditions lead to health problems ranging from aching limbs, backache and diabetes to urinary tract infections: ‘urinary infections are there, skin diseases, and some of the ladies [...] get infections in personal parts’. In some cases, these infections even lead to fertility problems.  

Squeezing suppliers

The price pressure placed by supermarkets on cashew factories is huge, with European buyers demanding the lowest prices for the highest quality nuts; as one Indian supplier told us, ‘selling to supermarkets is never easy’. European importers that supply supermarkets, such as Intersnack, are regarded as ‘aggressive buyers’.

This sentiment is backed up by plenty of evidence that proves supermarkets consistently exploit their massive buyer power. For example in the UK years of enquiries by the Competition Commission found that supermarkets were passing ‘excessive risks and unexpected costs’ onto suppliers despite the existence of a voluntary code to prevent such practices. Examples included supermarkets making changes to orders at the last minute and refusing to pay the full amount (already agreed) to suppliers.

Fairer food chains: tacking on the EU

In the UK Traidcraft campaigners and others have successfully lobbied for a watchdog that can hold supermarkets to account by using strong powers, such as the ability to fine supermarkets that break the rules. This success, and the establishment of other regulatory bodies such as in Hungary, sets an important precedent: but given that every global supermarket, bar one, has its headquarters in Europe, the time has come for credible EU regulation of our retailers.

Earlier this year the European Commission launched a consultation on how to tackle unfair trading practices in food and non-food supply-chains. Traidcraft, alongside partners throughout Europe, is using this opportunity to call for strong regulation of retailers with credible enforcement body. This regulator must be both Europe-wide and, if it is to be effective in tackling supermarket buyer power, have the ability to impart meaningful sanctions, including the power to fine retailers, when abuses occur. It’s time to move beyond voluntary codes supermarkets have been shown to ignore.

Without meaningful legislation we will continue to hear stories of mistreatment and exploitation from the people working in their supply-chains, at home and overseas.  The time has come to rein in the retailers.

Join us in our campaign for fairer food chains. Visit www.traidcraft.co.uk/campaign to find out more.

Read the background to the European Commission’s consultation on tackling unfair trading practices: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-47_en.htm

 

 

Overview of FTAO Press Releases

2016

Fair Trade Village and Workshops at World Social Forum will Address Trade Policy, Economic Justice, Climate Change and Small-Scale Farmers

European Parliament puts pressure on European Commission to act on Unfair Trading Practices 

Fair Trade movement and African farmers call for urgent action to put small-scale cotton farmers on the global agenda on sustainable textiles 

New report from the European Commission is labelled a 'missed opportunity' by campaigners

2015

Fair and transparent fashion and textile supply chains – it’s time for EU action!

Eu takes important step for Fair Trade, but long path ahead for all trade to be fair 

Renewed call by European local and regional authorities for more Fair Trade

EU Trade Commissioner reveals plans for Fair Trade

2014

Report launch event in the European Parliament

Who’s got the power? New study confirms imbalances in agricultural supply chains

Fair Trade housewarming at the European Parliament

EU Import duties on Kenyan flowers threaten future of Fairtrade producers

Commission passes on hot potato on Unfair Trading Practices

Fair Trade movement congratulates first Fair Trade-enthusiast European Commission President

Four hundred European Parliament elections candidates and three lead European Commission Presidency candidates commit to Fair Trade

European Youth Event hosts debate on World Fair Trade Day

Your clothes already tell a story about who you are. Now they can tell a better one.

Third candidate for the European Commission Presidency announces support for the Fair Trade Manifesto  

Vote for Fair Trade Manifesto is launched with the endorsement of two European Commission President candidates  

European civil society coalition calls on MEP candidates to support trade and investment rules that work for people and the planet

4 European public authorities rewarded for their Fair Trade cotton commitments

Toast to Fair Trade in Public Procurement

2013

WTO Bali package: A giant step for the WTO, a small step for Fair Trade

200 Mayors support Fair Trade in new global goals for poverty eradication and sustainable development post-2015

Cooperatives and Fair Trade promote people-centred businesses together

Uniting world mayors for Fair Trade

EU’s Snail Pace To Tackling Supply Chain Abuse

New Global Challenges Need New Global Leadership

2012

The Local Goes Global in the Fair Trade Beyond 2015 Campaign

European Parliament Hosts Fair Trade Breakfast on Public Procurement

The European Union should walk the road from Rio + 20 hand in hand with marginalised producers and workers

No more business as usual: activists set Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance Launch

European Court confirms possibility to demand Fair Trade criteria in public procurement 

New report offers ways forward for Europe in tackling supply chain abuse  

Fairtrade Access Fund To Provide Long-Term Loans To Smallholder Farmers

European Commission’s “modern” proposal on trade and development is the same old story

 

2011

European Parliament supports sustainable procurement

European Parliament hosts a Fair Trade Breakfast

European Parliament responds to the new EU trade policy agenda: "We support coordinated policies for Fair Trade" 

Modernising Public Procurement: Key demands for sustainable development in public procurement

EU leaders congratulate 1,000 Fair Trade Towns while the European Commission re-thinks EU policies

New EC "Buying Social" guide: a giant step for the EC, a small step for sustainable procurement

2010

New EU trade policy agenda: “Business as Usual” despite clear message from European citizens  

The European Parliament calls again on the European Commission to encourage Fair Trade Public Procurement

The Fair Trade movement urges the European Commission on World Fair Trade Day 2010 to move from words to action

Committee of the Regions speaks out for Fair Trade

2009

The WTO ministerial in Geneva lacked commitment to address economic, food or climate crisis

European Union Member States recognise Fair Trade as a priority area for Policy Coherence for Development

Aid for Trade: Is the EU helping small producers to trade their way out of poverty?

2008

Fair Trade 2007: new facts and figures from an ongoing success story

2006

European Parliament supports Fair Trade

Business Unusual 2006- New book discloses the reasons behind the success of Fair Trade

New Research Reveals Success of Fair Trade in Europe

Testimonial

"With Fair Trade, we work more together. Biological methods of production creates more work, but we get better price for our crops. We also diversify our production. This way, farmers can grow other products within two harvest periods and sell them on the market we have established here, rather than they can live on agriculture, without having to leave the region."

(Sompoi Chansang, Manager of Rice Foods Surin, cooperative of rice growers, Thailand) 

EU Import duties on Kenyan flowers threaten future of Fairtrade producers

EU Import duties on Kenyan flowers threaten future of Fairtrade producers

 


Fairtrade urgently calls for the EU and Kenyan government to find a solution which guarantees continued duty-free access for Kenyan cut flower imports, to protect the livelihoods of thousands of Kenyan flower workers and their families, before 1 October deadline.
“On behalf of all workers from Fairtrade certified flower farms in Kenya, we are deeply sad following recent news that from 1st October 2014 import duty exemption for Kenyan cut flower destined for EU market will be expiring. As fundamental stakeholders in the industry, we anticipate that when the new trade conditions become operationalized the market price of the produce will significantly rise. Consequently, the competitive demand for the Kenyan flowers will drastically drop favoring other sector players who will continue enjoying preferential trade terms and access. Therefore the sustainability of the business and livelihood of many workers, their siblings and members of the various communities deriving their dependency from this sector will be drawn into jeopardy.
“Surprisingly, the main social-economic gains so far achieved ranging from improved health care, education and enhanced standards of living among workers and the community attributed to Fairtrade business will begin to disintegrate. We feel so sad watching helplessly as the scenario push us to unemployment status and hopelessness
“As we look forward for the fruitful and meaningful EPA negotiations, it is our humble submission that the Kenyan flowers sector is permitted to continue enjoying its previous import duty exemption status beyond 1st October 2014. We guarantee EU member states that as workers we will continue supporting the industry sustainably and it is our sincere prayer that our plight is keenly reviewed taking cognizant of the negative impacts that will arise with the changes.”
– Grace Cherotich Mwangi, Fairtrade Africa Workers Representative

 

A new duty on cut flowers could have a devastating impact on Kenya's flower industry, including 32 Fairtrade certified flower farms that together employ 32,000 workers.

At present, there is no duty on cut flowers exported from Kenya to Europe, but from 1 October a duty ranging from 5% - 8.5% is set to be introduced.
The tariff is being imposed because, despite long-running negotiations on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) since 2002, the EU and East African Community (EAC) have failed to find a way to secure a continuation of the zero tariffs for cut flowers from Kenya.

Livelihoods of thousands at stake
More than 500,000 people, including 90,000 direct flower employees, depend on the flower industry for their livelihoods. The cut flower industry has become Kenya’s second most important foreign exchange earner, producing exports worth almost €360 million annually.
If introduced, the duty will increase the price of Kenyan cut flowers considerably, threatening farms’ ability to compete with cheaper alternatives. It could also mean potentially devastating job losses for workers in Kenya’s flower industry. The majority of these workers are women, and for many it is their only source of income to support their families.

Fairtrade flower farms also face devastating consequences
Over the past ten years Fairtrade has worked to establish fair trading relationships between European businesses and Kenyan flower producers. 44% of all cut roses produced in Kenya now come from Fairtrade certified farms, with the EU being the chief export market. Producers have diligently built up their organizations, meeting the Fairtrade Standards and investing the Fairtrade Premium in education, better housing, healthcare and infrastructure such as roads. Workers have benefitted from better working conditions, more knowledge about their rights and more autonomy through workers’ committees.
If Fairtrade flower farms suffer a drastic loss of sales, or in worst case go out of business, all their hard work and achievements over the past decade would be undermined. Workers on Fairtrade farms could lose their jobs and their livelihood.

Fairtrade calls for swift and fair solutions
We are calling on the EU and Kenyan government to urgently find a just and fair solution which ensures that cut flowers from Fairtrade farms continue to have tariff-free access to European markets, to protect the livelihoods of thousands of Kenyan flower workers and their families.

Q&A

What are EPAs?
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are trade agreements meant to safeguard ACP countries’ preferential access to EU markets, which had previously been granted through the Lomé Convention. However, EPAs are changing this preferential access from non-reciprocal to reciprocal access, meaning that ACP countries who sign have to open their markets to EU imports, and liberalize in other areas too.

Negotiations on EPAs have been happening since 2002. Some regions have already signed EPAs; in others, such as East Africa, the negotiations are ongoing.

Why are the negotiations taking so long?
The issues surrounding EPAs are quite complex. One of the main concerns is around the reciprocal nature of the agreement – developing countries must lower taxes (tariffs) on goods coming from the EU. Many developing countries are concerned that this will have negative consequences for the country’s development.
In Kenya, outstanding issues in the negotiations are export taxes, domestic and export support to agriculture, and human rights.

What do NGOs and civil society think about EPAs?
EPAs are very controversial and have been highly criticized by NGOs and wider civil society. This is also the case in Kenya, where many civil society groups have welcomed the fact that the government has not signed the EPA.
100% Fair Trade organization Traidcraft has detailed information on EPAs on their website. http://www.traidcraft.co.uk/get_involved/campaign/trade_rules/stop_epas/faq/

What products will be affected by the tariffs?
In Kenya, the main products which will be affected are cut flowers, fruits and vegetables.

What can I do?
You can express your concern by sending a letter to your Head of Government, asking them to raise this issue at EU level. You can download an example letter here.

 

Subcategories

  • Annual Reports
    Article Count:
    1
  • FTAO´s Position Papers

    Please find below the position papers of the Fair Trade movement on European and international policies from the last years.

    Article Count:
    14
  • Newsletter

    Find all the previous publications here.

    Article Count:
    192
  • Press releases
    Article Count:
    59
    • Press release 2013
      Article Count:
      6
    • Press release 2012
      Article Count:
      7
    • Press release 2011
      Article Count:
      6
    • Press release 2010
      Article Count:
      4
    • Press release 2009
      Article Count:
      3
    • Press release 2014
      Article Count:
      17
    • Press release 2015
      Article Count:
      9
    • Press release 2008
      Article Count:
      1
    • Press release 2006
      Article Count:
      3
    • :

                                                                                                                                                               

      The first EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award is officially launched!

       

      08 December 2017 (Brussels)Yesterday, the European Commission officially launched the first EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award. The Fair Trade movement warmly encourage local authorities to give the necessary visibility to their key contributors to make trade Fair by joining the competition.

      The long-awaited EU Cities for Fair and Ethical Trade Award has been officially launched yesterday. This was a commitment that the Commission took in October 2014, when the current EU Trade strategy was launched.

      The purpose of the award is to:

      • Recognize and celebrate cities’ achievements and positive impact in the areas of social, economic and environmental sustainability in international trade. 
      • Emphasize Fair and ethical trade schemes, as well as other non-governmental sustainability schemes, which may bring more sustainable opportunities to small producers in third countries and thus support sustainable and inclusive development.

      The call for applications is now open and EU local authorities can apply until April 2018. The winner is expected to be announced in Brussels in June 2018.

      “The launch of this award has been strongly requested by the Fair Trade movement and the more than 2000 Fair Trade Towns. Therefore, we welcome this initiative which gives the necessary visibility to the contribution of local authorities in promoting sustainable consumption and production models.”

      Sergi Corbalán, FTAO Executive Director

      The Fair Trade movement looks forward to supporting the European Commission and the International Trade Centre, appointed to set-up the award, to make this initiative a real success! The Fair Trade movement will mobilise its network to ensure a high participation of EU local authorities in the award. It will also seize the opportunity to raise awareness on the role of local policy makers in promoting sustainable development through trade.

      You can learn more about the award and how to apply here

      You can read FTAO’s toolkit on localising the SDGs through Fair Trade here

      A pdf version of this press release can be found here.

       ENDS

      The Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) speaks out for Fair Trade and Trade Justice with the aim to improve the livelihoods of marginalised producers and workers in the South. The FTAO is a joint initiative of Fairtrade International, the World Fair Trade Organization-Global and the World Fair Trade Organization-Europe.

      Contact:

      Peter Möhringer | moehringer@fairtrade-advocacy.org | Tel: +32 (0)2 54 31 92 3

      Fair Trade Advocacy Office

      Village Partenaire - bureau 1 | 15 rue Fernand Bernierstraat | 1060 Brussels – Belgium

      www.fairtrade-advocacy.org

       

      Article Count:
      2

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