Brexit - time to make trade fair

As Brexit moves ahead, we’re in an unprecedented situation.  The next few years will see our trade rules rewritten and new trade deals negotiated. It’s likely to mean big changes for us. But for millions of farmers and workers from the world’s poorest countries who rely on trading with us, it could be make or break.

We’re campaigning with Traidcraft and other organisations including Christian Aid, Oxfam, the Trade Justice Movement, Global Justice and One for our post-Brexit trade deals to deliver a fair deal for millions of vulnerable farmers and workers in developing countries.  

This could be the moment the UK starts trading in a way that delivers a fair deal for everyone. We could set the gold standard in trade policy that tackles global poverty by seizing opportunities such as:

  • Making it easier for farmers in developing countries to process and package their produce themselves, increasing the income they can earn from their exports
  • Putting in place trade rules that allow the poorest countries to import their produce into the UK tariff and quota free without us forcing them to do the same for our goods, so they can truly benefit from trading with us 
  • Making sure our trade rules and investment deals work towards international commitments on the environment, climate change, human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals.

But too often in the past, changes to trade rules and new trade deals have harmed not helped the poorest people who work hard to grow the food we love. We need to manage risks such as: 

  • Leaving the EU’s single market and customs area without putting in place measures similar to the ones which currently protect farmers in the poorest developing countries. Doing this would immediately punish millions of farmers and workers with an extra £1 billion import tax bill
  • Rushing into free trade agreements with wealthier countries such as the US, China and Brazil without ensuring that these deals won't undercut very poor countries which depend on the UK for much of their sales.

If we can seize the opportunities and manage the risks Brexit presents, we have the chance to change trade for good. Brexit is our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver truly fair trade that brings prosperity to the poorest countries around the world as well as the UK.

Take Action

1. Sign our petition to Liam Fox

For Britain to be a 'great, global trading nation' it must ensure its trade works for everyone. Tell the International Trade Secretary he has to seize this chance to change trade for good. 

2. Email your MP

Your MP is vital to ensuring our trade works for everyone. They can study our new trade policy and have the power to hold the government to their promises. So it’s crucial we educate our MPs on what's at stake.  Send them our briefing on Brexit and its trade implications and request that they write to the International Trade Secretary and ask how he will ensure the UK’s trade deals deliver a fair deal for millions of the poorest farmers and workers.


Latest News

Response from the Prime Minister to our petition

We're pleased to say we've finally received a response from Prime Minister Theresa May to the petition 50,000 Fairtrade supporters signed last autumn. 

In her letter to our Chief Executive, Michael Gidney, she says that her government is 'committed to creating a trade policy that will work for everyone, including the world's poorest'. Read it in full here

We've now got a clear commitment to ensuring the UK's trade works for the poorest. But the campaign isn't over yet. We know that commitments can crumble when negotiations get down to the details. That's why we're petitioning the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, to take further steps to ensure farmers and workers in developing countries are protected.  Find out more and sign the petition here

New Brexit report launched

During Fairtrade Fortnight 2017 we launched our new report - Brexit: Let's change trade for good. A joint publication between ourselves and Traidcraft, it reveals the potential untold human cost behind Brexit, as well as the unprecedented opportunity it presents for the UK to become a world leader in fairer trade. 

Read it in full here. 

MP briefing launched

In January 2017, the CEOs of Fairtrade Foundation, Traidcraft, Oxfam, Christian Aid and the Trade Justice Movement wrote to MPs with a post-Brexit briefing paper to provide them with further information about the role the UK can play in setting the gold standard in trade policy that tackles global poverty as we leave the EU. 

Petition handed in to No.10 

In autumn 2016, over 50,000 supporters signed a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, asking her to publicly commit to post-Brexit trade deals and business policies that will tackle global poverty and deliver a fair deal to farmers and workers in developing countries. 

On Thursday 1 December 2016 Fairtrade supporters and staff delivered a copy of the letter along with 50,057 signatures to Number 10 Downing Street.  

We'll let you know as soon as we receive a response from the Prime Minister. 


Did the Fairtrade Foundation campaign for the UK to leave or stay in the European Union?

We did not actively campaign in the referendum for either outcome. This is because as a registered charity, we follow the guidelines of the Charity Commission – we could not be perceived as attempting to influence the vote either way.

We have made no judgements or statements before or after the vote on whether the decision to leave is right or wrong for the UK. As an organisation, we believe our responsibility is to explain what we think are the implications of the result, and of course to campaign on behalf of Fairtrade farmers and workers who will be affected.

Our view on the implications of Brexit prior to the referendum and now is the same: it raises risks for farmers and workers due to the renegotiation of trading relationships, disruption to supply chains and possible changes to UK policies. But it is also an unprecedented opportunity to renegotiate trade that is fair and works to tackle global poverty. 

What about British farmers? Why aren’t you working to support them too?

Fairtrade was established specifically to support the most disadvantaged producers in the world by using trade as a tool for sustainable development.

The Fairtrade movement and certification scheme were born from the needs of farmers and workers in developing countries living on the absolute poverty line with little or no social safety net and far removed from the markets they sell to. British farmers are able to take their demands for a fairer deal into supermarkets, lobby their MPs directly or have their voice heard through farmers’ unions. The farmers and farm workers we represent do not have this access. They often have little infrastructural support, social security systems or other safety nets if they cannot get a fair price for their products.  

Nevertheless, we stand in solidarity with British farmers. We believe all farmers and workers wherever they are should get paid a fair price that covers their costs of production. We think that the principles behind fair trade can help springboard wider debate on improving the situation for UK farmers, and we are keen to build partnerships with other organisations such as the Soil Association or farmers networks, so that we can together support farmers both at home and abroad. You can read about our thoughts on fair trade milk and the potential solutions on our blog. We think there is plenty of scope for us to campaign together as a movement for fairer trade, but believe the FAIRTRADE Mark itself should continue to focus on the poorest and most marginalised farmers and workers in the world.