Fair Trade and Ethical Trade: are there moves towards convergence?
Fair trade and ethical trade have traditionally had quite different aims, scope and modalities, the former principally focused on terms of trade with small scale producers and the latter on working conditions in mainstream production. Global value chain analysis suggests that this coincided with different forms of governance in the chain: fair trade reflecting relational governance based on trust and mutual dependence, while ethical trade was incorporated into the industrial coordination of buyer-driven, modular value chains.
This paper explores the potential for greater synergy between the two as a result of recent developments, taking UK supermarket value chains as a case study. We conclude that convergence may occur in some supermarket chains, in a context of relational governance, while in others ethical trade and fair trade will remain inherently different. Whether and how convergence occurs will depend largely on the prevailing culture, values and strategies of the supermarket concerned.