The Case for Fair Trade

Clive Hamilton
Publication Date: 
While the case for ‘free trade’ has been put consistently to the public over the years, the case for ‘fair trade’ is not widely understood. This paper aims to set out the arguments in favour of modifying the trade regime to make it both fairer and better for the environment.
Trade issues have been a central part of the globalisation debate. While popular protests have focussed on the spread of corporate power, including the influence of global financial markets, disputes between nations have tended to centre on trade questions. While some environmentalists would argue that, by promoting much higher levels of trade and the associated problems of transport and packaging, globalisation promotes unsustainable development, no-one is demanding an end to trade. The task, therefore, is to modify the rules that govern international trade so that globalisation is more likely to both contribute to sustainable development and protect workers from exploitation.