News and press releases

New report showcases inspiring examples around the world that confirm the key role of governments in promoting the uptake of Fair Trade

November 2021

Full report on Public Policies on Fair Trade

Fairtrade International and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office are pleased to jointly publish the results of a research project on Fair Trade public policies around the world. The report, authored by experts Veselina Vasileva and Didier Reynaud, provides an overview of current and past public policies on Fair Trade and related policy fields. The study presents six case studies: Brazil, Belgium, Ecuador, the European Union, France and Italy, and includes snapshots on Tanzania and Sri Lanka – two emerging cases from Africa and Asia that show potential for further development.

The study analyses how public policies on Fair Trade can enable access to markets for Fair Trade producers, support Fair Trade enterprises and enhance recognition of Fair Trade principles and networks by governments. The report classifies four types of public policies on Fair Trade and related policy fields. The screening of 23 country cases during the first phase of the research clearly showed that in most of the countries there are laws as well as frameworks, programmes and initiatives of governmental support (non-binding legislation) related to Fair Trade or at least to one of its principles. However, a direct reference to Fair Trade is given in only a few cases.

The study presents six case studies: Brazil, Belgium, Ecuador, the European Union, France and Italy, and includes snapshots on Tanzania and Sri Lanka – two emerging cases from Africa and Asia that show potential for further development. By presenting the variety of public policies that can enhance Fair Trade and sharing the diverse experiences in different countries the study aims to motivate and inspire Fair Trade movements worldwide to take action and advocate for public policies on Fair Trade in their own countries.

The Brazilian case portrays a multi-stakeholder process of establishing a unique Fair Trade certification system. The Ecuadorian case highlights how many opportunities for the uptake of Fair Trade can open up when Fair Trade is already addressed in the Constitution of a country and how a complex, inclusive multi-stakeholder elaboration process can lead to a comprehensive and multi-dimensional Fair Trade strategy. The Belgian case teaches us ways to establish a sectoral multi-stakeholder initiative on Fair Trade cocoa. The ‘Beyond the Chocolate Initiative’, for example, is based on the Belgian Charter for Sustainable Development and aims to fight child slavery, make a specific sector free of deforestation and guarantee at least a living income for all producers involved in the value chain; and show how beneficial it can be for the whole process when the Parliament of the country expresses the will to become a Fair Trade country. It also shows the impact of international cooperation using Fair Trade as a tool to empower partner countries.

The French case tells of the first country in the world where Fair Trade has been defined in law. It demonstrates that North-North and South- North Fair Trade can co-habit and offers a great variety of legislation on Fair Trade, such as the International Solidarity “Equite Program” and the expected recognition of Fair Trade labels. The Italian case tells of the first country in Europe that has managed to include Fair Trade criteria as a mandatory requirement in public procurement law for some food products like chocolate and banana. The EU case shows how important it is to achieve a certain policy (EC Communication on Fair Trade), even a voluntary one, in order to go further and upgrade the policy some years later (‘Trade for All’ strategy). The Sri Lanka example offers an inspiring example of a legislative process and a unique framework of cooperation on Fair Trade between the government of Sri Lanka and the international Fair Trade networks. The Tanzanian example – which is more so about advocacy activities – shows which enabling and success factors can influence a parliament´s decision in favour of Fair Trade coffee and a reduction in coffee taxes.

All the cases prove the importance of multi-stakeholder processes, government commitment and institutional support for the elaboration and implementation of public policies on Fair Trade. In most of the main case studies there are active Fair Trade networks and well-established structures that have played a crucial role in the elaboration of public policies on Fair Trade. Nevertheless, the analysis has shown that there is an urgent need for strengthening the Fair Trade movement’s structures and capacities – especially on advocacy activities – and for encouraging exchange of knowledge and experience among Fair Trade actors. Awareness-raising among governmental authorities on different political levels is also still needed in most of the cases.

The study concludes that there are many different public policy instruments to achieve support for Fair Trade, such as laws, non-binding resolutions, national action plans, strategies, initiatives, etc. The case studies give ideas and inspiration on the steps to take and the institutions and actors to approach to achieve more support for Fair Trade at policy level.

Several interesting cases emerged during the research that were not explored further given the limited scope of the study. These would be worth studying in the near future as they show that there a lot of potential to encourage Fair Trade actors to strengthen their advocacy activities and lobby for effective and progressive legislation on Fair Trade. Thus, a continuation of this research is strongly recommended.

This research project was possible thanks to the financial support of the European Union and the Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation (FPH). Translated versions in Spanish and French will be made available before mid 2022.

EU Deforestation proposal released: A landmark legislation for EU supply chains, but will it deliver on the ground?

Fair Trade movement statement – EU Deforestation legislative proposal

November 2021

Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for the Environment and Frans Timmermans, Vice President of the European Commission, have unveiled the long-awaited EU Regulation proposal to minimize the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with commodities and products placed on the EU market. The Fair Trade movement welcomes the proposal as a major milestone to clean up EU supply chains from deforestation but sees room for improvement to achieve the holistic approach needed to effectively reduce deforestation on the ground, hand in hand with producer countries and smallholders.

This week, the European Commission has presented its EU regulatory proposal to tackle imported deforestation. The proposal models how the EU intends to minimise consumption of products coming from supply chains associated with deforestation and ultimately increase EU demand for and trade in legal and deforestation-free commodities and products.

Based on three main components, namely market prohibition, due diligence obligations and a benchmarking system, the designated agricultural commodities (soy, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa, and coffee), as well as some of their derived products (e.g., chocolate, leather, and furniture) will have to comply with the EU Deforestation free criteria while being also produced in accordance with the laws of the country of production.

Smallholders play a key role in globally traded agricultural products, especially in sectors like Cocoa where they often form the backbone of the economy in producer countries. Ensuring a smallholder inclusive proposal is thus of greater priority.

We welcome therefore the recognition that smallholders may face specific adaptation challenges. The late cut-off date is considered in the proposal as the main measure to mitigate the negative impact on smallholders, but this does not constitute a silver bullet. It also foresees an assessment of the impact of the Regulation on farmers and the possible need for additional support for the transition to sustainable supply chains at a later stage which is a step in the right direction. We strongly encourage the EU to think ahead of it and already plan concrete measures to support smallholders to comply with new EU requirements and ensure a fair share of the costs of adjustment among all supply chain actors.

This will help prevent a situation in which EU supply chains might become free of deforestation while smallholders are driven to produce in an unsustainable way, selling their products to less regarding consumer markets while stepping further away from a decent standard of living. Closer attention should be given to smallholders trapped in contexts (e.g., poor land and forest governance, lack of access to income, land, information, finance) that force them to degrade the environment. Reducing possibilities to generate sustainable living through restricted EU market access could accelerate the negative cycle of structural poverty and exacerbate levels of forest degradation.

“If serious about achieving the overall objectives of the EU Green Deal as well as the SDGs, the EU should aim at ensuring that any new EU policy that primarily focuses on the environment does not neglect social sustainability. Both are two sides of the same coin and should be considered on equal footing to guarantee EU rules that are fit for purpose”, stated Sergi Corbalán, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office.

In that sense, we welcome the EU’s willingness to step up engagement with partner countries to develop partnerships and cooperation, allowing full stakeholders participation and aiming to strengthen the rights of forest-dependent communities including smallholders. This inclusive approach will be key to create an enabling environment, and further promote the transition to sustainable and deforestation-free production of commodities. The explicit reference to potential Agreements that would address deforestation or forest degradation and facilitate compliance sends a positive signal, we encourage the EU to prioritize and build upon existing dialogues with producer countries such as those currently taking place in the cocoa sector.

Ultimately, a successful transition will require making the business case for sustainability and create new economic perspectives for smallholders where trees are worth more standing than cleared. To this end, the EU should aim at using its trade leverage and partnership potential to a greater extent and set up positive incentives that can reward those producers that are restoring and protecting the forests.

The proposal remains however too timid on certain aspects to face up the challenge in all its dimension and ensure a real paradigm shift on the ground. Deforestation being both a conservation and a human right issue, we can only regret on the one side the restricted scope of the Regulation in terms of covered commodities and ecosystems and on the other side the absence of any reference to international standards of human rights. Efforts to ensure compliance and effective enforcement of the Regulation, including provisions on liability, are furthermore necessary.

Moreover, the new benchmarking system under which countries will be assigned a high, medium or low-risk status only captures country-level risks and misses to account for landscape specificities within the same country, facing different levels of deforestation, forest degradation and associated human rights risks.

Applying simplified due diligence to companies sourcing from “low-risk” countries entails a worrying degree of uncertainty as regards potential counterproductive impacts on the ground, both for people and the planet. This might indeed prompt a cut-and-run wave from companies sourcing from “high-risk” countries, driving producers in greater poverty while increasing the environmental pressure on the forests of neighbour countries. A further assessment would be needed.

We look to the EU to drive a sustainable and inclusive transformation hand in hand with all actors involved in its supply chains. As major importer and consumer of Forest Risk Commodities, the EU can play a determinant role to curb deforestation and forest degradation in producer countries, provided that the EU legislation builds on the reality of the ground and is part of a long-term engagement with smallholders and producer countries. It is only by raising the bar as much as the floor that the EU will help effectively reverse current trends.

For more information or any question you might have, contact Charlotte Vernier at vernier@fairtrade-advocacy.org

COP26 side event – Youth and decision-makers discuss nature, energy, water, and sustainability in the global economy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This November, leaders from around the world negotiated at COP26 in Glasgow, UK, possible actions to address the climate crisis at the global scale. On 11th November, the FTAO took part in a COP26 side debate on how to make decision-making on sustainability policies more participatory, particularly when it comes to youth. The European Economic and Social Committee hosted us and other organisations at the EU Pavilion. Four youth representatives, including Fairtrade Youth Ambassador and coffee producer from Malawi Rachel Banda, had the opportunity to ask questions to EU and UN policymakers.

More information can be found here: Youth and decision-makers discuss nature, energy, water and sustainability in the global economy | European Economic and Social Committee (europa.eu)

You can find the recording of the event here: Youth and decision-makers discuss nature, energy, water and sustainability in the global economy – YouTube

Find the full line-up here:

Webinar – How to be protected against Unfair Trading Practices when you export to the EU?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2019 the EU adopted the Directive (EU) 2019/633 on Unfair Trading Practices in business-to-business relationships in the agricultural and food supply chain. The Directive instructed all EU Member States to put in place laws to forbid certain unfair trading practices between buyers and sellers in agri-food supply chains. It aims to mitigate vulnerability of food suppliers to abusive trading practices due to imbalances of power between larger actors (often buyers) and smaller actors (often suppliers). Both EU and non-EU suppliers, are entitled to protection from said practices.

The FTAO is organising this webinar to share information about how this law provides non-EU suppliers with the  tools to be able to benefit from such protection. We will answer questions about its functioning and provide information and assistance. Our speakers will include Henrieta Jany-Roskova from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture (DG AGRI) and legal experts from different EU Member States.

The same event will take place twice so that partners from the Global South with different time zones and languages can participate:

  1. 17th November at 10.00 to 11.00 CET for Africa and Asia with interpretation from English to French.
  2. 17th November at 16.00 to 17.00 CET for Latin America with interpretation from English to Spanish.

Register here for the webinar! You can find here more information about the event and here general practical information about the Unfair Trading Practices Directive.

If you have any questions you wish to submit beforehand or any other comments, please contact enssle@fairtrade-advocacy.org

If you were unable to follow this webinar, you can find the recording here.

European Youth Event 2021 – Sustainable and fair: Rethinking the EU trade agreement model

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 9 October 2021, the FTAO co-hosted a discussion as part of the European Youth Event 2021 on how to rethink the EU trade agreement model to make it fair and sustainable. The world’s most vulnerable populations are most likely to suffer the consequences of the climate crisis. It is imperative for the EU to address this issue by considering the social and environmental dimensions of its trade policy.

MEP Margarida Marques was our host, and we had the privilege to hear from her and from other top-level experts and policymakers. Young people from across Europe, including the Young Fair Trade Advocates, had the chance to follow the discussion and ask questions to the panellists.

The panel was composed of:

  • Maria Martin-Prat, Deputy Director General at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade. She delivered the keynote speech.
  • Pascal Lamy, President Emeritus of the Institut Jacques Delors.
  • Mathilde Dupré, co-director of the Institut Veblen.
  • Sergi Corbalán, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office.
  • Margarida Marques, Member of the European Parliament for Portugal, Socialists and Democrats Group, and member of the Parliament’s Committee on International Trade. She served as moderator.

Read minutes here

View the recording here

Legislating for Impact – Three Recommendations to Make Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence Work for Smallholders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joint paper: Legislating for Impact – Three Recommendations to Make Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence Work for Smallholders

18 October 2021

We welcome the upcoming legislative proposal by the European Commission for a Sustainable Corporate Governance directive, including mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD).  

To effectively stop human rights violations and negative environmental impacts in global supply chains, EU policymakers should ensure the upcoming legislation leads to positive impacts for rightsholders and improves the situation and the livelihoods of smallholders. It is key that the HREDD directive addresses the root causes of adverse impacts on human rights and the environment such as persistent poverty among smallholders.

While smallholders can be active drivers of sustainable development, the conditions for them to produce in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way are often lacking. Unchecked predatory purchasing practices, trade barriers, and additional costs to comply with codes of conduct push smallholders further into poverty. For rightholders such as smallholder farmers to truly benefit from the upcoming legislation, they must be able to earn a living income and pay living wages to hired workers. 

17 October 2021 marks the annual International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. On this day, the international community calls for the urgent need to ‘Build Forward Together’ and end persistent poverty. Thirteen civil society and producer organizations join this call to action and release a briefing that provides three overarching recommendations to make HREDD legislation work for smallholders. 

The briefing strongly recommends that the legislation and accompanying guidance should:

  1. Focus on living incomes, living wages and responsible purchasing practices to reduce poverty among smallholder farmers.
  2. Encourage lasting trade relationships and continuous improvement in global value chains. 
  3. Require the engagement and active collaboration of rightsholders in all the stages of the human rights and environmental due diligence processes.  

We are convinced that including concrete measures to involve and support smallholders will make the legislation effective. It is also a matter of social justice and solidarity with the most marginalized actors in global supply chains who produce a third of the world’s food supply. Smallholder farmers are a vital part of the solution to ending persistent poverty, and the EU must prioritize their rights in creating legislation that will have a truly sustainable and inclusive impact.

#EndPoverty #BuildingForwardTogether

WTO Public Forum Side Event – Transforming Global Trade for Smallholders: Building Back Fairer Post COVID-19

On 29th September 2021, Fairtrade International organised an event as part of the WTO Public Forum 2021. An exceptional group of panellists spoke about how to transform global trade for smallholders. They discussed lessons learnt from the COVID-19 crisis and how to Build Back Fairer.

The panel was composed of:

  • Daniel Legarda, Ecuador’s Vice-Minister of International Trade,
  • Roxana Cayo, President of the National Fair Trade Platform in Bolivia
  • Anders Aeroe, Director of Division of Enterprises and Institutions at the International Trade Centre,
  • Nyagoy Nyong’o, Global CEO of Fairtrade International.

Sergi Corbalán, Executive Director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, served as moderator.

Summary of the event

View the recording here

Time to stop Unfair Trading Practices in the garment supply chain

29 September 2021

Traidcraft Exchange, industriAll European Trade Union and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office call for national and European policy options to eradicate Unfair Trading Practices being applied by garment retailers and brands on their suppliers to level the global playing field.

Today, Traidcraft Exchange, industriAll European Trade Union (industriAll Europe) and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office (FTAO) published a joint paper on the policy options to eradicate Unfair Trading Practices in the global garment sector. The paper looks into the precedent of the EU Directive in Unfair Trading Practices in the agricultural food supply chain and argues for the urgent need for a similar legislative instrument for the garment sector.

The paper demonstrates that Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) are preeminent in global garment supply chains and are deeply interlinked with the current structure and functioning of the sector which is unfortunately known for its vastly unequal power relationships between different actors. Indeed, the SARS-COV-19 (COVID-19) crisis has both demonstrated and amplified the flaws of the system and resulted in abusive practices and costs being imposed on producers in the EU and abroad.

Judith Kirton Darling, Deputy General Secretary of industriAll Europe, said:

 “The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the dreadful impact of Unfair Trading Practices on garment workers both in Europe and further afield. Not only did workers suffer due to cancelled shifts and factory closures, some workers had to fight for wages for work already done with big brands refusing to pay for work not shipped due to COVID-19 restrictions. We must rebalance the power in the garment supply chain to ensure that workers are paid justly and are treated fairly. ‘’

The paper offers an overview of some of the main Unfair Trading Practices faced by garment producers, such as disproportionately low buying prices – which are often below the cost of production, short manufacturing lead times, poor payment terms, unilateral amendment contract terms, or shifting the risks so that producers are the ones facing them.

Charlotte Timson, CEO at Traidcraft Exchange, added:

“We can tackle these unfair trading practices by prohibiting abusive contract terms, as was done through the EU’s agri-food Unfair Trading Practices Directive. This instrument outlaws specific behaviour such as unilateral cancellations, unilateral amendments or retro-active discounts.”

The joint paper highlights the precedent of the EU Directive on UTPs in the agri-food supply chain as a building block on the way forward to eradicate these practices from the garment sector. The organisations recall that the European Parliament has already acknowledged the need to take action to combat unfair practices beyond the agri-food industry, and recommend trade unions and civil society, EU Member States and the European institutions take action to make it happen.

The publication of the paper coincides with the recent adoption of an Explanatory Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on the transposition and implementation of the EU Directive on the agri-food supply chain. In the opinion, entitled Towards a fair food supply chain (NAT/823), the EESC welcomes the efforts undertaken by Member States which have addressed, through their transposition laws, issues that go beyond the minimum requirements of the EU Directive.

With regard to the adoption of the opinion, Jorge Conesa, policy manager at the FTAO and appointed expert by the rapporteur of the opinion, highlighted that “many of the challenges and dysfunctions that the EU decided to address through the agri-food UTP Directive are -at least- equally severe in the garment sector and it is, therefore, logical to undertake a similar legislative approach to tackle them”.

Read the full Joint Paper: ‘Leveraging the Unfair Trading Practices Directive to benefit the Garment Sector’

Read the EESC Explanatory Opinion:‘Towards a Fair Food Supply Chain’

 

Towards a Fair Food Supply Chain  

Press release 

23 September 2021

By request of the Slovenian Presidency, the Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment  (NAT) section of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has prepared an exploratory opinion on the effective achievement of the objectives of the Directive on unfair trading practices in the agricultural and food supply chain. The opinion includes best practices from Member States and offers guidance for an effective transposition and implementation. 

In its opinion, the EESC welcomes the EU Directive as a step forward in addressing power imbalances along the chain. It stresses the importance of fair prices as enabling factor for investment, innovation and sustainable production; welcomes the resilience of the food supply chain during the COVID crisis; and calls for an ambitious transposition and implementation of the Directive by EU Member States  

The EESC particularly highlights the cases of Member States which have gone beyond the minimum standards imposed by the Directive and taken legislative action to offer additional protection to supply chain actors by, for example: 

  • Putting a ban on the return of unsold products without paying for them or in passing the buyer’s storage cost onto the supplier (Germany) 
  • Forbidding buying below production cost (Spain, possibly Italy as well) 
  • Setting up ombudspersons to independently monitor the implementation of the law and to ensure anonymity for complaints, inter alia (Spain and Germany) 
  • Modifying the turnover requirement so that the transposition law can cover larger actors (Germany, -preliminary- Belgium and Spain) 
  • Banning double race auctions (possibly Italy) 
  • Setting obligation to have written contracts for all operations (Spain) 
  • Setting a revision process in 2 years (instead of 4 as indicated in Directive) (Germany)  

In its opinion, the EESC highlights the need to ensure that transnational operations are also effectively protected by the Directive and its transposition laws. Ensuring that non-EU actors have the right tools and information will require specific action from the EU and its Members States.  

The opinion also identifies gaps on the Directive, such as the ‘step approach’ which implies that a supplier who has a large turnover but a ‘de facto’ weaker position would not be able to complain; or the fact that some UTPs that are now considered as ‘grey UTPs’ (ie. accepted only under certain conditions) should be prohibited altogether. 

While the deadline to transpose the Directive expired in May 2021, several Member States have still not notified its transposition to the Commission. Consequently, the Commission issued letters of formal notice to 12 Member States in July 2021. This opinion is expected to accelerate the transposition process and to push for an ambitious and effective implementation. 

Related links 

Read the full opinion here  

The clock is ticking 

Further reading on our work on Unfair Trading Practices can be found here.

PLACING FAIRNESS AT THE HEART OF CLIMATE AMBITIONS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fair Trade Movement Position Paper| In italiano | En español | Em português | Auf Deutsch | In het Nederlands | In limba romana | Po polsku| En français

Press Release in English

16 September 2021

Ahead of the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference, set to be held in Glasgow this November, actors of the global Fair Trade movement have published a position paper calling on the international community to ensure that ambitious climate aims go hand in hand with climate and trade justice goals.

Every human being on the planet will be affected by the consequences of climate change if decisive action is not taken soon. However, we will not all suffer from it to the same extent. The structural inequalities in our economic systems that the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare could be exacerbated by a rapidly changing climate.  The contributions of farmers, workers, and producers are key to address this issue and achieve a sustainable future. This will require the eradication of business models based on an extreme imbalance in negotiating power between buyer companies and producers that lead to the former imposing abusive conditions on the latter.

There can be no climate justice without fair trade. It would be unacceptable for farmers and producers to bear the full costs of the climate transition on their own. Policymakers must ensure they receive the support they need to make this shift while making sure they obtain fair prices for their products.

#TradeJustice4Climate