Something Every Country Needs
Why should each country have a Department of Fair Trading? Actually a few do. They are agencies dedicated to protecting consumers. But, this article speaks of another form of fair trade. Fair trading involves a growing business practice which works to empower small producers and workers in developing countries with higher prices and wages for their work. The concept works to give consumers a choice between conventionally traded goods and those traded in a fair trade practice environment. The products have similar costs and similar features. The only real differences are that there are fewer middlemen and more profits for the original producer.
Those two differences seem to be a problem with companies that work in conventional trading. Much of the cost for a product goes into the pockets of any number of middlemen. They tack on an additional cost each time the product moves. What might bring a few pennies to the original producer may sell for several dollars to the consumer. A good example of this is coffee. A designer cup of coffee in the hands of a consumer in the United States may cost $3 US or more. Of that, only $.02 US is in the hands of the original producer. The rest is in the hands of all the middlemen in between. To make this more equitable, a Department of Fair Trading would allow for a bit more profits for the original producer.
What else would a Department of Fair Trading offer? It would give the original producers the ability to work together in larger groups. Workers could form unions to negotiate working conditions with their employers. They would have basic safety and health standards in their workplace. They would have a living wage as part of the world. This would provide the worker with the option at moving forward with their lives instead of mired in poverty and debt.
Sustainable wages are only the beginning of what a Department of Fair Trading would offer. Part of fair trade practices is taking a small portion of the profits and creating a community fund. The workers all have a say when it comes to how the group uses the funds. They often go towards improving education and health access. They can help empower women and minorities with special projects. The options are endless. It is important to practice what we preach by using our money for fair trade goods where possible.