Just like humanitarian relief, fair trade is a field that attracts passionate individuals with complex world views. Most are not in it for the money. But it is also rife with controversy, as personalities driven by conviction often clash over principles and practice. No two fair traders are alike, which probably explains many of their arguments.
The idea of making trade fair is as old as ethics itself.
Fair trade is held up as promoting fair prices for producers and guaranteeing social and environmental standards. These ideas are neither new nor controversial. But the recent boom in fair trade has drawn attention as standards and models multiply while authentication mechanisms lag behind.
According to a recent report by the nongovernmental organisation ActionAid, West African seas are being devastated by legal and illegal overfishing, while local fishing industries decline. Moreover, the economic partnership agreements in their currently proposed form only exacerbate this problem.
Brussels is tempted to skip the translation of the interim economic partnership agreements (EPAs) into the 23 official European languages because of concerns that some African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries may change their minds about signing the final agreements.
Some of the 35 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states that have initialled interim economic partnership agreements (EPAs) may still withdraw from the process – apart from the 44 states that have so far refused to sign EPAs with the European Union, according to researchers studying the fraught trade negotiating process.
According to the French constitution, France has no minorities. French law makes it illegal to record citizens' ethnic origin or religion. But in the face of mounting discrimination, France recently introduced corrective institutions. However, the system is still in its infancy.
As it prepares to assume the presidency of the European Union in July one of the main issues on France’s agenda will be the economic partnership agreements (EPAs). But with less than three months to go, France’s official position concerning EPAs is still surprisingly unclear.
France is expected to push for the further entrenchment of trade-distorting agricultural subsidies when it ascends to the presidency of the European Union (EU) on July 1 this year.