General Concepts of Fair Trade

Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.

By offering the poor better trading terms and conditions Fair Trade ensures that people in the South have a chance to earn a decent living and an opportunity to work themselves out of poverty.

In October 2006, over 1.5 million disadvantaged producers worldwide were directly benefiting from Fair Trade while an additional 5 million benefited from Fair Trade funded infrastructure and community development projects.

The history of Fair Trade

Fair Trade started in the mid 1940s and early 1950s in developed countries. In the US, the Self Help Craft, began buying needlework from Puerto Rico in 1946. In Europe Oxfam UK started to sell crafts made by Chinese refugees in Oxfam shops in the late in1950s. Parallel initiatives were taking place in the Netherlands.

In the 1960s professional Fair Trade Organizations started emerging and in the 1970s World Shops (or fair trade shops as they are called in different parts of the world) continued to emerge. As Fair Trade organizations grew they started addressing a wide variety of problems while propounding the message “Trade Not Aid” in international fora and conferences.