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Is Fair trade fair?

I am trying to figure out fair trade, as I have listened to talks and read papers on how good fair trade is and how it is helping but also I have listened and read things saying that it isn't so fair, that the money doesn't all go to the right people.
I would like any and all opinions please and thank you.

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    Oct 4 2013: A very informative book I read maybe five years ago on this subject is Javatrekker. I read it too long ago to summarize it here, but there is no question that the money "doesn't all go to the right people." It was a great read.

    If you want to read case studies, here is a list of academic articles: http://www.fairtrade-institute.org/db/publications/index
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    Oct 7 2013: I think if the deal is agreed by both parties without any fraud or withholding any necessary information, it's fair for both parties.So if you want it to be more fair, you should have an all-round perspective to stipulate details to avoid some regretful things happening.
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    Oct 5 2013: Actually, we can not be certain about this claim, as for this to be, we need to see the real numbers.

    I just did a quick check on fairtrade.net, as one of the bigger companies in this business.

    http://www.fairtrade.net/faqs.html

    In their FAQ, you can find the following statement:

    Retailers determine final price

    Retailers determine the final price paid by consumers. Retail pricing is not controlled or influenced by Fairtrade International or any of the labelling initiatives. FLO-CERT verifies the right price has been paid to the producer but the final price paid by the consumer is the decision of the retailer. ...

    Well, I don't know about you, but for me, retailers are a vivid part in the trade-chain and so is the 'final price'. The fact that this got completely separated here is enough reason for me to get highly skeptical. How do you determine if the 'right price has been paid to the producer', if the retail price is not part of this equation? How do you negotiate this 'right price' by not knowing the price-range within the whole trade?

    Fair trade means, that a producer gets to know what his/her products are worth on the market, the retail market, as only then he is able negotiate a price which would be fair to him/her.

    On my quick search on this site, I couldn't find any real numbers to see who is having what margin, what surplus within the trade-chain and actually I didn't expect to find any.

    Additionally, any 'fair-trader' is yet another element in the trading-chain who wants to make profit. And as long we don't know the difference in profits between the fair-trader, the retailer and the producer, we can not know how fair this trade really is.

    And as lip service is cheap and promises can be broken, it certainly helps to keep an healthy skepticism on fair-trade as well as on any trade at any time. The logic of 'profit maximization' is to give all consumer less and this at the highest price possible. So stay awake! :o)
  • Oct 4 2013: are you asking about fair trade products, like fair trade coffee, chocolate or are you asking about fair trade agreements between countries?