Fair Trade: Reform and Realities in the International Trading System

Michael Barratt Brown

This book explains how the international trading system came into existence, the ways in which commodity markets work today, and why the poor countries of the South believe their essential character to be not free trade, but unfair trade.

It traces the stages in the world’s economic development which have left the great majority of people on the Third World still producing food and raw materials for export, to be processed and manufactured in the industrial countries: and it follows the long chain of commercialization, running through merchants and commodity markets, from crop to shop.

The key to Third World and Eastern European economic prospects, many argue, lies not in ore aid, but in wider trade. So can trade be made fairer? In the second part of his book, Michael Barratt Brown argues that many attempts have been made to win a fairer deal for primary producers by means of planning trade, regulating the market, parallel trade, and economic aid. While none of these have been really successful and most North-South trade remains unfair, his book concludes with some original proposals to bring producers and consumers together within expanding networks of alternative trade that could ensure a framework for fair trade.