Westminster: Fairtrade initiatives growing, post-Brexit talk

Holborn Fairtrade group

Holborn Fairtrade group

Source: Westminster Justice and Peace


Westminster Justice and Peace are pleased to announce that there are now 95 parishes in the diocese signed up to Fairtrade, and in partnership with CAFOD we are pressing on to become a Fairtrade diocese.

So we organised two important talks during Fairtrade Fortnight on Brexit and its implications for trade justice. Mary Milne in Hitchin and Emilie Schultze in Holborn, Campaigns team for the Traidcraft company, explained that leaving the EU will probably mean leaving both the Single Market and the Customs Union, so that all trade negotiations will need to be renegotiated. Around £34billions' worth of goods are imported by the UK from Less Developed Countries (LDCs), including not only fresh fruit and vegetables, but also more importantly, clothing and footwear. One-third of Belize's exports reach the UK, along with 23% from Mauritius, and 10% from Bangladesh.

There are currently some good deals in place with LDCs and Europe, including one entitled 'Everything but arms', involving no tariffs. Less favourable is the Economic Partnership Agreement, which imposes bilateral conditions. If our government does nothing, a colossal £1billion extra taxes will be imposed by the World Trade Organisation on goods coming in. The Traidcraft speakers used the example of a group of grandmothers in Malawi caring for their grandchildren and running the Black Mamba chutney enterprise. Their prices would increase by 71/2 % and the niche Traidcraft market would inevitably sell less.

Possible advantages in leaving the EU could include 'taking back control' and giving countries a better deal. Kenya exports a large quantity of raw coffee beans but only 5% of roasted with a target of increasing to 10%. The more they process, the more they will have to pay in higher tariffs.

Parish representatives wanted to know why countries had such vulnerable economies, dependent on one commodity only, such as coffee, flowers or bananas, and it was explained that as well as an importer, Traidcraft as a charity was able to help small farmers to develop and diversify. Markets were often complicated, with other European countries having their own trading patterns.

Traidcraft begged the churches to raise this issue vigorously with our MPs and other groups; government is currently focussing on main suppliers and buyers in lead countries such as China, the US and Australia. The LDCs stand a good chance of being forgotten. Traidcraft has a card-signing campaign at the moment, for sending to our MPs, and some were distributed at the talks. Those who want to get involved should contact Traidcraft's campaign office in South London: Traidcraft London Office (Campaigns), +44 (0) 203 752 5720 , 2.12 The Foundry, 17-19 Oval Way, London, SE11 5RR

Justice and Peace wants parishes to sign up to Fairtrade so as to support small farmers and producers such as the Black Mamba group to develop their own communities.