What has Labour done for Fairtrade?

Today is the first day of the Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs from 22 February to 7 March. Around the world, millions of lives have been touched, changed and improved by Fairtrade: providing decent earnings to producers in developing countries. This year, the theme of the Fairtrade Fortnight is “The Big Swap”. Think about the products you use, could you swap to a Fairtrade equivalent? The aim is to get 1,000,001 swaps by the end of the fortnight.

But what, exactly, has the Labour Government done for Fairtrade?

Since 1997, the Labour Government has supported Fairtrade with DfID funding and from this year, even during the recession, funding will be quadrupled to £12m over the period 2010-13 as part of a joint effort with donors and Fairtrade Labeling Organisations International. This will help bring 1 million more producers into the movement, which in turn means higher wages and better lives for 7 million people across the globe.

Additionally, through “Fairtrade Premiums”, twice as much money will be invested directly into local organisations. These can provide improved irrigation, or medical clinics, which will make a profound differnce the lives of people in developing countries.

The Fairtrade movement is vital because no country has managed to tackle poverty in the last 30 years without also increasing trade. Trade can be the great leveller of the world and help millions out of poverty, raise living standards and increase global prosperity: if it is done right. Fairtrade ensures that producers get the returns they deserve for their products. What we need is fairer, more equitable international trade rules. The Labour Government has been pushing for this for the last 13 years and is providing at least £1b every year for the next 3 years in aid for trade and growth, as well as seeking to enshrine a promise to provide 0.7% of national income in aid every year.

Labour believes in the values of the core of Fairtrade: that everyone across the globe should receive a fair price for their goods and a fair wage for their work. This belief in equity and fairness is shared by countless millions of people: over the last decade, every year we have doubled the amount of Fairtrade produce we buy. Already, 7.5 million people benefit from Fairtrade, which is crucial to development. With continued support from the public and the Labour Government, this can only increase.

Please visit the Fairtrade Fortnight website choose what you will swap for Fairtrade.

By Tim Nicholls

Have a break, have a [Fairtrade] Kit Kat

Great news today as Kit Kat, Britain’s biggest selling chocolate biscuit, will go Fairtrade from January.

About 1 billion Kit Kats are sold every year in the UK and the switch is set to guarantee a better deal for more than 6,000 Ivorian cocoa farmers.Kit Kat goes Fairtrade

Gareth Thomas MP, our Trade & Development Minister said:

“I am glad to see Kit Kat become Fairtrade certified, giving more British shoppers the chance to improve the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. This will give thousands of Ivorian cocoa farmers better opportunities to trade their way out of poverty.”

Fairtrade continues to grow despite the recession. The Fairtrade Mark appears on 4,500 products, and last year more than £700m was spent on Fairtrade goods in the UK, an increase of more than £200m on 2007. And thanks to a Labour Government, Fairtrade will continue to grow.

In October, Secretary of State Douglas Alexander announced £12m of new funding for Fairtrade, to help twice as many farmers in the developing world work their way out of poverty. The funding will bring another 1 million producers into the scheme and so enable 7 million more people in poor countries to benefit from a better deal offered by Fairtrade.

Returning to the Kit Kat, this is a victory for Fairtrade supporters everywhere. For years Nestle were vehemently opposed to Fairtrade. But as with their attempt to sue the Ethiopian government a few years ago, they have bowed to public pressure. First with their coffee product, now with Kit Kat – that may be just two product lines, but now we have our feet firmly wedged in their door. There is a long way to go, but no way back.

To get involved in Fairtrade campaigning go to www.fairtrade.org.uk

by David Taylor, Labour Campaign for International Development