Rose calls for renewed Fairtrade support
October 11, 2013

Rose calls for renewed Fairtrade support

WINFA Director Renwick Rose has called for “new re-engagement, renewed commitment, support and partnership on the part of the Fairtrade Foundation (UK), supermarkets and marketers” to assist in transforming the agricultural industry in the Windward Islands.{{more}}

He was at the time addressing hundreds of Fairtrade supporters and campaigners gathered at the Kensington Town Hall, London, last Saturday, October 5, on the occasion of the 2013 Fairtrade Suporters’ Conference. The Conference is an annual affair organised by the Fairtrade Foundation and this year was held under the theme “Unlocking the Power of the Many”.

In addressing the theme, Rose spoke of its relevance to the interests of Fairtrade producers, consumers and campaigners. He called for them to work together “to unlock the potential power they possess…to bring justice and fairness to the international trading system”. This is because, according to Rose, international and national trading systems are “inherently unfair” and there is little justice for farmers and workers, particularly in developing countries.

The WINFA Director backed up these charges by reference to the devastation of the Windward Islands’ banana industry, brought about by trade wars, specifically mentioning the infamous US/EU dispute in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which ended favourable market access terms and the damaging supermarket price wars which are negating Fairtrade gains.

He told the gathering that even within the Fairtrade movement, there is “a great deal of unease” among small farmers’ and workers’ organisations about the entry of ever-larger entities into the Fairtrade market, which is “creating more competition for already embattled small producers”.

Rose called for frank discussion on these issues, whilst ensuring that the rights of all small producers and workers must be respected and for safeguarding the integrity of the Fairtrade label.

In supporting a call by Fairtrade Foundation executive director Mike Gidney for more courage on the part of Fairtrade supporters for reinvigorated efforts to tackle “unfair” trading practices and widen the scope to broader trade issues, Rose called for greater collaboration between the Fairtrade movement and other civil society organisations. Among the matters to be tackled were the continued “retreat from development” on the part of many developed nations, engaging in the post-2015 development dialogue and debate, and the negative effects of trade agreements such as the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) being promoted by the European Union, he said.