In response to Theresa May’s speech in Cape Town Tim Aldred, head of policy and research at the Fairtrade Foundation said:
“The prime minister rightly recognises the need for aid and it is vital this is not set aside in favour of trade. Our message continues to be “trade and aid” not “trade instead of aid”. We want the people growing the food we eat and the workers making our consumer goods to get a fairer deal from global trade. The UK must aim to deliver a gold standard of trade for development with the power to catalyse truly Fair Trade to reduce poverty, improve human rights and tackle environmental damage. It can strengthen co-operatives, helping them to be reliable business partners. It can strengthen trade unions, improve working conditions and rights at work. It can empower women in trade, help farmers tackle climate change, and help tackle modern slavery.
“The prime minister also acknowledges that trade matters for development. The challenge, as she notes in her comments on “inclusive growth”, is that the benefits of trade must reach those who need it most. At the Fairtrade Foundation, we understand how challenging this can be. It will take long term commitment and clear strategies. With Brexit negotiations on a knife edge the government must legally guarantee continued market access for African countries and others with existing EU agreements, including in the event of no-deal. It is vital that the world’s poorest do not lose out from any problems in the UK’s negotiation with the EU.
“In her speech Theresa May mentioned Cote D’Ivoire. Cocoa farmers here typically earn less than 69p a day. They are trapped in a life of poverty caused by factors outside of their control and, despite backbreaking daily labour, have no way of breaking the cycle. These are the people the government should have front of mind when negotiating future trade deals and spending future UK Aid. We look forward to working with the UK government to progress their plans and ensure fair trade for all.”