Martina Anderson on the importance of Fair Trade

Mon, 17/10/2011 - 19:35 -- Editor

Fair Trade is an issue that is at the heart of the times in which we live.  How we choose to relate to our partners in the global community is central to our character as people and as citizens of the world.

There’s no getting away from the fact that we live in a world of globalised trade; an increasingly powerful influence on the lives of people across the world.

In the developed world, we can access commodities that enhance our lives in all sorts of ways. It’s a different story for people in the developing world where the impact of globalisation has more serious and unpredictable consequences. 

We all know that competing in a global market is a harsh environment where market forces, rather than any sense of justice and fair play, reign supreme.  Such an exploitative regime often creates unfair advantage for developed countries and creates greater levels of poverty and inequality in developing countries.

The global market isn’t responsive to local issues particularly in the developing world.

We have a choice to make.  We can take the view that competition demands that producers find a way to supply at the market rate, and find a way to live on the proceeds.

Or we can make a different choice.  We can acknowledge that the global market, that makes life so much easier for our societies in the western world, is exploitative, creates poverty and injustice and inequality and we can try and change that system.

One way of doing this is to decide that instead of taking what we need as cheaply as we can get it, to commit to fair trade.  To pay a price that reflects the needs of suppliers, rather than what we can get away with paying.

It does matter if the farmer who grew the cocoa beans was paid a fair price for doing it.  It does matter if the communities providing the things we use every day have access to things we view as basic necessities –  like clean water and education. And it certainly does matter that they have the opportunity to achieve fulfilment in their lives.

We can and should commit to fair trade.

The Executive has a responsibility to demonstrate leadership on issues that matter – to make ethical choices, to encourage fair play and a sense of justice.  In my Ministerial role, I want to encourage and enable other people to do the same in their lives and in their businesses.

As an Executive, we acknowledge that when we spend public money, we aren’t just buying goods or services; we are making impacts – whether economic, social or environmental.  We also know that the choices we make determine whether these impacts are positive or negative.

I am committed to ensuring that decisions the Executive make are based on a proper consideration of all these impacts.  That is why we are committed to promoting fair and ethical trading, and to bringing forward a strategy to do so that will sit within the Framework of our Sustainable Development Strategy.

There are organisations and individuals who are part of a community of concern that is making fair and ethical purchasing choices available to everyone here.  I applaud the work of the fair trade movement in this part of the world.

The commitment to supporting our community and the global community is to be commended for all that they do to make a real, tangible and positive difference in the world