If we support fairtrade, then we must oppose unfair trade deals like CETA and TTIP
02 March 2016
For many years, fairtrade has been successfully supporting small-scale farmers and producers in poorer countries; changing the rules of trade which disadvantage them. By setting up farmer and worker owned organisations, ensuring decent working conditions and workers’ rights, and offering stability of income, the fairtrade movement has supported millions of farmers in the global south.
But all that positive work is under threat from changes to the system of global trade and governance that are being proposed under a series of mega trade deals which could cost poorer countries dearly. TTIP (the US-EU trade deal) and CETA (the Canada-EU trade deal) will give unprecedented powers to corporations, to the detriment of small scale producers and ordinary citizens. And both deals will open up procurement to competition from trans-national corporations, threatening the ability of governments and local authorities to specify fairtrade goods.
On a global scale, the main losers from TTIP and CETA will be developing countries, who are expected to suffer dramatic losses in market share from intensified competition in the EU and US markets. The Fairtrade Foundation suggests that loss of income from TTIP in Côte d’Ivoire could be £1.28 billion and in Bangladesh as much as £2.21 billion.
If passed, TTIP and CETA aim to set a new ‘gold standard’ for future trade deals. They could become the model on which trade deals around the world are based. If we support the principle of fair trade, then we must oppose TTIP and CETA.
If the system of global trade is ever to work for ordinary citizens and workers, small scale farmers and producers, small businesses and democratically elected governments, then it is vital that CETA and TTIP are stopped.
How might TTIP and CETA change the rules of global trade?
TTIP and CETA epitomise a system of global governance which puts the interests of big business above the interests of democratically elected governments. These agreements will enshrine ‘rights’ for big business that are not extended to governments, citizens or the environment. And they certainly won't be extended to small-scale growers or producers in poorer countries.
TTIP and CETA aren’t really trade deals as we might previously have known them. They go beyond reducing tariffs and quotas and focus on other things that are seen as barriers to trade, such as public policy to protect the environment, food standards, workers and much more. TTIP and CETA aim to reduce or remove those barriers and in doing so will create more intense competition in international trade than has been seen before - making it harder than ever for the smaller players to compete against big business.
Supporting fairtade is a no brainer - and I've yet to meet a politician who doesn't think it's a good thing. But ignoring (or worse still supporting) TTIP and CETA could threaten decades of good work to ensure that fairtrade supports small-scale producers. Anyone who supports fairtrade must oppose TTIP and CETA.