Fairness and Trade

As Scotland is today declared a Fair Trade Nation, and because I am the convener of the University of Edinburgh’s Fair Trade Academic Network, I present a short essay written for the forthcoming issue of the University’s student publication Leviathan.

As universities, and even nations now, claim Fair Trade status (or Fairtrade, one word, if they link their claims to a particular source of certification), academics and other critics would have us pause for thought about what fairness in relation to trade is really supposed to mean according to those who proclaim it as a goal or achievement.  I aim to show that while sceptical voices need to be heard, it can nevertheless be intellectually respectable to research and teach about fair trade.  And that means it is certainly worthwhile, ethically, to do so.

Link to the essay: fairness in relation to trade

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3 Responses to Fairness and Trade

  1. Karen Bowman says:

    Tim – -thanks – hope others join in the discussion across the University and the Fair Trade Nation!

    I agree that “while sceptical voices need to be heard, it can nevertheless be intellectually respectable to research and teach about fair trade. And that means it is certainly worthwhile, ethically, to do so. ”

    As a practitioner I see this links to debates in retail about ‘mainstreaming’ versus 100% fair trade (usually small outlets and thus lower impact on the producer community needing buyer ‘support’).

    As with ‘ethical purchasing’ or ‘sustainable procurement’ one can argue for buying goods and services for a university (or nation) in a way that can be as efficient and as effective as other ways but is seen to be also ‘fair’ in a sense e.g. in ‘just’ use [vs abuse] of relative power. We are taught we purchase best in ‘win/win’ relationships (ideally) so the term ‘fair’ re trade can be a helpful one.

    If taken in its widest sense it can include supported businesses, codes of conduct for supply chain workers rights or environmental impact considerations – or at the least – avoiding corruption/fraud.

    A Fair Trade Nation like Scotland needs now to consider how to encourage more ability to teach, research and develop knowledge underpinning the achievement – yes to look behind the ‘label’.

  2. Pingback: Get Involved in our Fair Trade Academic Network | Global Justice Academy Blog

  3. Pingback: Prison labour in the supply chain | Edinburgh Politics and IR Blog

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