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SMU prof pushes for fairer fair trade at national conference this weekend

21 February, 2017

Dr. Gavin Fridell

The Fair-Trade movement has enormously improved the lives of farmers in developing countries, partly by encouraging consumers in the developed world to consume ethically.

But according to Saint Mary’s University professor Dr. Gavin Fridell—who will deliver the keynote address at the Fifth National Canadian Fair Trade Conference this weekend in Halifax—that’s no longer enough.

“Fair trade has made some amazing strides,” says Dr. Fridell, “but its overall impact has been limited. It only reaches a small proportion of the world’s poor, and those it does reach generally remain in poverty, even if they are relatively better off.”

Fridell, the Canada Research Chair in International Development Studies at Saint Mary’s, is one of Canada’s leading experts on fair trade. He’s authored numerous books and articles on fair trade and free trade, including Coffee (2014 and Alternative Trade (2013).

"Fair traders need to push beyond ethical consumption, and develop a more political vision of what fair trade is, and what it can become. This could involve fair traders developing a clearer and firmer stance on government trade policy, or building stronger ties with groups they have not really worked with in the past, like migrant workers groups, organized labour, Northern indigenous peoples, or local food sovereignty groups."  

This year’s conference is expected to draw more than 300 attendees, and delegates will include more speakers who, like Dr. Fridell, are helping to expand and the scope and impact of the fair-trade movement. They will explore how fair-trade businesses can grow, discuss the pros and cons of a national fair trade standard, and look at how domestic fair trade might work.

See the CFTN website for more.