How Fair is Fair Trade?

Author: 
Robbert Maseland and Albert de Vaal
Publication Date: 
2002
Summary: 
This paper investigates to what extent fair trade programmes, are indeed ‘fair.’ This is accomplished by comparing fair trade with free trade and protectionist trade regimes on their compliance of the criteria set by the fair trade movement itself. This comparison is made using comparative cost based models and economies of scale models. It is found that whether or not fair trade is superior to free trade or protectionism is highly dependent on a number of characteristics of the products to which fair trade is applied as well as on the context within which international trade takes place.
Abstract: 
This paper investigates to what extent fair trade programmes, are indeed ‘fair.’ This is accomplished by comparing fair trade with free trade and protectionist trade regimes on their compliance of the criteria set by the fair trade movement itself. This comparison is made using comparative cost based models and economies of scale models. It is found that whether or not fair trade is superior to free trade or protectionism is highly dependent on a number of characteristics of the products to which fair trade is applied as well as on the context within which international trade takes place.