Fair Trade 2.0: credit where it is due

Alex Singleton, now at the Globalization Institute has been a leading opponent of Fair Trade labelling.  I argued some time ago that his negative view on Fair Trade was inconsistent with his belief in markets.

To his credit, Alex seems to be softening his position.  He says

But I’ve increasingly found being a critic of Fairtrade somewhat uncomfortable. … Let’s face it, the Fairtrade scheme – despite its provocative name – is not the opposite of free trade. It can go hand in hand with free trade – after all, it’s about consumers being free to choose to be altruistic when buying coffee.

Quite so.  It is a sign of his intelligence that Alex is willing to be convinced, and it reflects well up on him that he is open about changing his mind.  

The Globalization Institute’s new position will be set out in a report next year, including suggestions for improving the scheme.

I know it is unfashionable, but I am much less convinced than the GI that their beloved microcredit schemes do any good.  But that is a discussion for another day. 

2 thoughts on “Fair Trade 2.0: credit where it is due”

  1. I don’t necessarily like all the baggage fairtrade people seem to carry, but I would like to buy products that give labor a decent wage. From the numbers I’ve seen this is relatively trivial compared to things like marketing. I think it benefits us all because such workers can start to buy things that we produce.

    Milton Friedman once said that markets are a form of democracy, but he and many other alleged free marketers have paradoxically opposed distribution of information on whether or not the worker can afford a bicycle, clean water or send their kids to school. It’s ok to distribute “information” that scantily clad women like to be seen in the vicinity of a product, but other data is anti capitalist. In fact it is movement towards the ideal markets hypothesized in econ 101, buyers have fuller information on a product including things such as “external costs.”

    This is revolutionary.

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