Fair trade objective, definition and principles

Fair trade originated from the finding that the gap between poor and rich populations is widening and the desire to establish fairer trade practices. Fair trade indeed undertakes to change trade practices through better prices and decent labour conditions for farmers, artisans and workers, primarily in developing countries but also in Europe and Belgium.

The main global networks of the Fair Trade movement agreed the following definition of Fair Trade in 2001: “Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.
Fair Trade Organizations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.”

10 principles of fair trade

1. Create opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers.
2. Promote transparency and accountability.
3. Guarantee trade relations based on trust and mutual respect.
4. Guarantee the payment of a fair price.
5.  Ban child labour and forced labour.
6. Commit to non-discrimination, gender equity and women’s economic empowerment, and the freedom of association.
7. Ensure decent working conditions.
8. Provide capacity building.
9. Promote fair trade.
10. Respect the environment.

Source: World Fair Trade Organization

Find out more on fair trade principles: The Fair Trade Charter.

Fair trade has many positive effects on producers, such as capacity building through provided technical assistance. The fair trade premium, a development bonus paid to producer organisation, allows investments in key sectors such as health, education, infrastructure and community development.

Fair trade also has a positive impact on the preservation of the environment. It regulates substances used in agriculture, such as pesticides and other chemicals, and is attentive to waste management and the conservation of biodiversity.