The South Can Also Be Consumers of Fair Trade Products

Published on IPS, July 21, 2009.

Sybrandus Adema interviews BOUDEWIJN GOOSSENS, the executive director of Fairtrade Label South Africa FLSA:

Fair trade could be compared to the free-range chicken of global trade. Yes, the consumer – usually in the North – pays slightly more, but then at least the producers – more often than not in the South – are better off.

The fair trade movement aims to enhance trading conditions for small-scale businesses, improve labour conditions for employees and empower communities through ethical and sustainable trade. Historically the South produced fair trade products and the North consumed them.  

However, the awareness regarding the consumption side of trade has grown in the South, says Boudewijn Goossens, the executive director of Fairtrade Label South Africa (FLSA). Originally from the Netherlands, he has lived in South Africa for more than a decade.

This awareness has grown to such an extent that, last year, Fairtrade Label South Africa (FLSA) was established, becoming the first Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO) developing-producer country with its own Fairtrade Labelling Organisation …

… IPS: More politicians, especially in Europe, support fair trade. Do you see any growing support amongst politicians in developing countries?

BG: We had our first meetings with the South African department of trade and industry and the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) about introducing Fairtrade clothes. I believe that the support amongst South Africa politicians will grow as they get familiar with the Fairtrade principles.

What Fairtrade aims to achieve is completely in line with government policies. We have also introduced a FLO Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment policy that is compulsory for all Fairtrade farms using hired labour. (The ANC government is implementing black economic empowerment policies as part of its redistribution agenda to redress apartheid inequity.)

This policy is stricter than the government policy. I personally believe that labour conditions should have been part of the B-BBEE scorecard, but it is not. Fairtrade fills this gap.

IPS: What drives you to do this work?

BG: It gives a lot of satisfaction. It is my passion to give the less privileged in the world a stronger position. I work for them. I open up a new market and try to increase the sales of Fairtrade products so more producers and workers will benefit. (full text – END/2009).

Comments are closed.