What is the first thing you do or think about when you hear “Fair Trade Coffee?”. Obviously, nothing related to the image above. How does the phrase “Fair Trade” influence your decision to buy or not to buy coffee? In a Guardian article, it reported that, “Last year, 60% of consumers surveyed across 24 industrialised countries said they believed their shopping habits can make a difference in the lives of farmers and workers in poorer countries”. According to the Fairtrade Foundation, more than 6 million people in 60 countries benefit from fairtrade.
For some people in developed countries, buying fair trade coffee is their contribution to the economic growth of developing countries. Huge businesses like “Starbucks” have bought into this idea, making sure that, every step of the production process “ensure safe, fair and humane working conditions, including protecting the rights of workers and providing adequate living conditions. Compliance with minimum-wage, child labor and forced labor requirements is mandatory”. Why are companies making this extra effort to put all these in place? Do developed countries get something in return (apart from amazing coffee) by promoting fair trade produce? ( read this article to find out more).
In another article, the author says “Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit, but an unusually sustainable one. It gets most of its revenues from service fees from retailers. For every pound of Fair Trade coffee sold in the United States, retailers must pay 10 cents to Fair Trade USA. That 10 cents helps the organization promote its brand, which has led some in the coffee business to say that Fair Trade USA is primarily a marketing organization. In 2009, the nonprofit had a budget of $10 million, 70 percent of which was funded by fees. The remaining 30 percent came from philanthropic contributions, mostly from foundation grants and private donors.” This is questionable, but a bit understandable.
Other people in developed nations are anti-fair trade. In this post, the author talks about the reasons why he is against fair trade, and how it is not beneficial to the US and even the developing countries. He argues
“Fair trade often means that some politician or bureaucrat picks a number out of thin air and imposes it on foreign businesses and American consumers. Fair trade means that Jamaica is allowed to sell the United States only 970 gallons of ice cream a year, that Mexico is allowed to sell Americans only 35,292 bras a year, that Poland is allowed to ship us only 350 tons of alloy tool steel, that Haiti is allowed to sell the United States only 8,030 tons of sugar. Fair trade means permitting each American citizen to consume the equivalent of only one teaspoon of foreign ice cream, two foreign peanuts, and one pound of imported cheese per year. Fair trade means the U.S. government imposes import quotas on tampons, typing ribbons, tents, twine, table linen, tapestries, and ties. Fair trade means that the U.S. Congress can impose more than 8,000 different taxes on imports, with tariffs as high as 458 percent.”
Basically, he argues that fair trade isn’t really fair. However, is this how the consumer feels? is this the way you feel when you drink your Vanilla Latte or Caffè Misto from Starbucks every other day? As a citizen of the USA, what do you think about fair trade coffee either promoting or resisting globalization?
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