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Churchgoers Urged to Support Struggling Fairtrade

Monday October 8 2018

Church members have been urged to support fairtrade after the news that one of the best-known brands, Traidcraft, said it may cease trading at the end of the year.

Traidcraft, which has been operating since 1979, blamed a ‘difficult economic climate’, including the weak pound, for the decision. 68 people at the organisation’s Gateshead headquarters are facing redundancy.

In a blog for the Joint Public Issues Team (of which the Church of Scotland is part), former fairtrade business owner Ruth Murray warned that ‘a fairtrade business model has become increasingly untenable’.

She urged ‘everyone with the means’ to bring forward their Christmas shopping and buy from Traidcraft and other fairtrade sources; and to hold businesses to account to make sure they maintain their fair trade ranges.

She wrote: “Collaborative and powerful relationships developed over decades with talented and now thriving communities are at risk of coming to an abrupt end, and it all feels so unnecessary.”

Meanwhile, the Fairtrade Foundation has warned that a ‘no-deal’ brexit could be disastrous for producers in developing nations. In a briefing paper released last month, the charity warns that the increased cost of trade under WTO rules could lead to companies ending long-term relationships with suppliers, and lower purchasing prices and lower wages for producers.

The report notes 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.

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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