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No-deal Brexit 'Disastrous for Fairtrade'

Wednesday September 19 2018

The Fairtrade Foundation has warned that a ‘no-deal’ brexit could be disastrous for producers in developing nations.

In a briefing paper [pdf] released today, the charity warns that failure to reach a deal on the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union, due to happen in March next year, could impact on a number of different commodities, including fairtrade bananas, cocoa and flowers.

Under World Trade Organisation rules – which will govern trade between Britain and the EU should a deal not be reached – the charity warns that the increased cost of trade could lead to companies ending long-term relationships with suppliers, and lower purchasing prices and lower wages for producers.

The report, Delivering a 'Fairtrade Brexit'?, also says that currency devaluation could hit fairtrade companies importing from developing countries, and that companies could step back from fairtrade commitments.

It does note that brexit could bring future opportunities for fairtrade farmers but only with the implementation of a transition period and careful consultation to develop and implement future policy, and to avoid an unnecessary economic shock. For example, the report calls for a re-think on Economic Partnership Agreements and for a fresh look at sugar policy to ensure that developing countries do not lose out.

Helen Dennis, Policy and Advocacy Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation and the report’s author said: “March 2019 is now looming, but without clarity on a withdrawal agreement and transition period, many fairtrade producers still don’t have guaranteed access to the UK market after brexit day.

“Fairtrade producers around the world will be watching these negotiations with bated breath as what is decided will directly impact them.

“There could still be an opportunity to rethink UK trade policy with development at the heart, but without swift progress to secure a deal, good work that has been built up to support farmers in developing nations, including through fairtrade, will be at risk.” 


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