Fair Trade: The Scope of the Debate

Tim Anderson and Elisabeth Ridell
Publication Date: 
'Fair Trade' has become such a popular term that it now covers a bewildering array of quite different proposals, from protectionist measures through genuine solidarity action to new marketing opportunities. While 'fair trade' is often seen as a counterpart to the older concept of 'free trade', in many ways 'free trade' and the associated arguments around the World Trade Organisation's liberalising processes have also been arguments about fairness - i.e. the right of equal access to markets. Our aim in this paper is to unpack 'fair trade' as a concept, to examine the main varieties of the concept and their relationship to so-called 'free trade'.