We often hear about fair trade as it becomes more important for society with the evolution of ethics and awareness. But do you really know what it's all about? You can't officially call yourself a "fair trader" just like that!
The WTFO (the World Fair Trade Organization) has issued a list of 10 very specific requirements that must be respected in order to qualify for fair trade status. Zoom in on these main principles.
The 10 principles of fair trade according to the WTFO
1) Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers
Fair Trade must support small producers who are neglected, whether they are independent family businesses or grouped in associations or cooperatives. This principle aims to enable them to move from poverty and financial insecurity to economic self-sufficiency.
2) Producer responsibility and transparency
The aim here is to make fair trade producers aware of the importance of their decision making. Under this principle, they commit themselves to be transparent in their commercial management, let their employees get involved, and share information with all their collaborators.
3) Fair trade practices
Fair trade is carried out being concerned for the social, economic and environmental well-being of the producers with whom one is trading. The objective is not to maximise profits at the expense of the quality of life of the workers but rather, make commitments to pay them fairly, respecting their identity and customs.
4) Payment of a fair price
A fair price is one that offers a fair wage to producers. It implies a socially acceptable remuneration (in the local context), considered by the producers themselves as fair, especially in terms of equal pay between women and men.
5) Absence of forced and child labour
Fair Trade implies that there is no forced labour of any worker employed. Consumers who choose these Fair Trade products are thus assured the labourers were treated fairly . Producers must comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as national laws against child labour.
6) Non-discrimination, gender equity and economic empowerment of women
In fair trade, no discrimination is tolerated in hiring or remuneration, be it on racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, political or trade union support... The aim is to promote gender equality, and to ensure that women have the same opportunities for development as men.
7) Ensuring fair working conditions
Fair Trade provides its workers with a safe and healthy working environment. Working conditions in this sector respect national laws and International Labour Organization conventions related to health and safety. Fair traders must be aware of the working conditions under which their employees operate.
8) Ensure capacity improvement
Through this new type of trade, the organizations concerned aim to improve the skills and capacities of small-scale producers. By developing their knowledge in management and organization and by unlocking access to both local and international markets, Fair Trade aims at the continuous improvement of the producers with whom it collaborates.
9) Developing Fair Trade
This principle indicates that Fair Trade Organizations are working to extend as much as possible the type of consumption that is more respectful of producers in disadvantaged countries. They must defend and publicise their values, seek to treat their employees better and raise awareness among their customers.
10) Respect for the environment
Fair Trade members use raw materials with a low carbon footprint as much as possible to cause less impact on the environment. They buy locally, control their energy consumption, favour renewable energy and limit the use of herbicides or pesticides.
The legal definition of fair trade in France
Fair trade has not only become a matter of morality, but also of law, in order to avoid abuses and to establish a common framework for the various companies. Thus, in France, it is the LAW n° 2014-856 of July 31, 2014 relating to the social and solidarity economy (1) Article 94 which specifies the rules defining fair trade.
We find, globally, the same main principles as those of the WTFO, such as the economic and social development of workers, a remunerative price that takes into account production costs, traceability requirements, or the emphasis placed on the promotion of this type of trade.
Fairtrade international trademark’s definition
“Fairtrade” is a trademark name of Fairtrade International. For them, fair trade is about decent working conditions, better prices, fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world and local sustainability.
When companies are called for paying sustainable prices (which must never be lower than the market price), the fair trade system addresses the injustices of regular trade, which traditionally discriminates against the weakest producers. It empowers them to make their own decisions, control their future and develop the dignified life everyone should have.
At Bhangara, it goes without saying that we strongly endorse all these fair trade principles. Our objective: to provide you with the best products at the best price, while respecting and helping the men and women who make them as well as protect all natural resources and the environment.
Our fair trade backpacks, handbags and computer cases are made with complete transparency, because we are fervent defenders of ethical fashion, and we believe that your textiles should not be designed at the cost of the well-being of their creators.