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Fair trade is growing but Africans lag behind

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Wednesday, 08 September 2010

Fair trade is growing but Africans lag behind

Despite its minuscule share of world trade, fair trade is a booming business, importing certified foodstuffs and products from all over the world to Northern supermarkets. But there is increasing concern that this growth is yet to benefit poor countries in Africa. The movement to ensure decent prices and working conditions for producers in the developing world represents less than one percent of global commercial exchanges. But, according to the Fairtrade Labelling Organisations, one of its main promoters, the tiny sector’s sales still notched 3.6 billion euro in 2009. That same year, despite the global financial and economic crisis, fair trade sales in France alone increased by 10 percent. But fair trade’s expansion is much slower in poor countries in Africa. "It is obvious that fair trade does not focus enough on least developed countries," says Christophe Eberhart, of Ethiquable, a cooperative that imports fair trade foodstuffs to France from African least developed countries (LDCs). Fair trade is increasingly popular with European consumers. In France, the Platform for Fair Trade ("Plate-Forme pour le Commerce Équitable" in French) polled consumers and found that 95 percent of them have heard of fair trade. But most fair trade success stories hailing from the South are from South America and Asia, rather than Africa. The Fairtrade Labelling Organisations’ 2009 report lists a growing number of consumer prizes awarded to fair trade products. Among an estimated 6,000 products, Bolivian vodka, Ecuadorian spicy banana chips and other niche delicacies were endorsed. But no African goods made the list.

Source: Inter Press News Service Agency