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.