MP fights for fairer trade and calls for Britain to "lead the way"
Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson called for Britain to lead the way in ethical trade during Fairtrade Fortnight.
The MP, who is also a shadow International Trade Minister, said the rules of the global economic system were rigged against the world’s poorest countries and said a Labour government would work to ensure a fairer system for all.
Fairtrade certification helps farmers and producers secure stable prices for their goods, it pays them a premium for their products to be reinvested back into communities, and gives assurances to consumers that they are buying ethically sourced products.
Mr Esterson said: “Supporting producers in developing countries makes absolute sense and I know many of my constituents buy Fairtrade.
“Aid alone will not address the root causes of poverty, inequality and climate change around the world. Labour’s goal is to build a world for the many, not the few.
“Any new trade deals that are done after we leave the EU must address the issue of fair trade. Labour is calling for future trade deals to be transparent and open to full Parliamentary scrutiny.
“We need sustainable development. The impact on the world’s poorest must be a key consideration in signing future trade deals.”
According to the Fairtrade Foundation, there are more than 1.65 million farmers and workers in Fairtrade certified-producer organisations. More than a quarter of all farmers and workers in Fairtrade are women, and there are 1,226 Fairtrade certified producer organisations in 74 countries. The Fairtrade Premium is spent on investments supporting productivity or quality improvements, or on education.
At the Commonwealth Summit, due to take place in the UK in April, trade is likely to feature high on the agenda. 24 of 53 Commonwealth member countries are currently Fairtrade exporters. In addition, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand all have developed Fairtrade markets.
But cuts to local authorities in the UK have damaged moves to support Fairtrade. Sefton Council aimed to become a Fairtrade Borough in the late 2000s but this was never achieved due to a lack of funding.
Mr Esterson said: “Labour has long been supportive of the Fairtrade certification as a means for challenging and redressing the injustices of conventional trade rules. Sefton Council do what they can to promote Fairtrade in the borough but have been hampered by cuts from the government since 2010. I am sure that the next Labour government will enable more councils including Sefton to become Fairtrade Councils.”
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Kate Osamor is currently preparing a paper that will set out a new approach for Labour to international development, to be published in Spring 2018.
Mr Esterson added: “I am supporting Fairtrade Fortnight 2018 and the millions of farmers across the world who produce the food we eat every day. The certification scheme stands as a testament to what can happen when millions of farmers, shoppers, producers, workers, campaigners and NGOs come together to make our economic system fairer and more democratic. I want all major supermarket chains to back the Fairtrade standard and not undermine it by creating their own weaker certifications.
“When trade is fair, the lives of farmers and their communities across the world are changed for the better. That is why I back fair trade over free trade, and building a world for the many, not the few.”
Fairtrade Fortnight runs from 26 February – 11 March 2018