Fairtrade warns a no-deal Brexit could be disastrous for overseas farmers

coffee beans

As discussions continue in Brussels over the UK leaving the European Union the Fairtrade Foundation has warned of the impact of a ‘no-deal’ scenario on producers in developing nations.

In a report released today the charity has warned that a ‘no-deal’ could lead to an increase in the cost of trade with developing nations, potentially leading to:

  • Companies switching their sourcing arrangements, ending long-term relationships with suppliers;
  • The burden of increased tariffs and other costs being pushed down onto producers and workers (i.e. lower purchasing prices, lower wages);
  • Currency devaluation hitting Fairtrade companies importing from developing countries;
  • Companies stepping back from Fairtrade commitments resulting in smaller volumes being bought on Fairtrade terms, less Fairtrade influence on issues such as living wages, and less investment in programmes. 

The report sets out how a number of different commodities from the iconic Fairtrade banana to cocoa and flowers could be impacted should the UK crash out of the EU with no deal, to trade solely on WTO terms. It also looks at the effect of exiting without guaranteeing developing countries the market access they currently have through the EU. Fairtrade is calling on the UK Government and EU negotiators to step up efforts to avoid a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. In addition, the charity wants any agreement between the two sides to ensure: 

  • Developing countries do not lose their market access, especially those with existing ‘Economic Partnership Agreements’ (EPAs) and ‘Free-Trade Agreements’ (FTAs)
  • A future UK-EU agreement supports trade with developing countries  
  • Developing country producers are protected from any negative impacts of Brexit
  • Future trade policy has development objectives at its heart 

The report notes that Brexit could bring future opportunities for Fairtrade farmers but only with the implementation of a transition period and careful consultation to develop and implement future policy, and to avoid an unnecessary economic shock. For example, the report calls for a re-think on EPAs and for a fresh look at sugar policy to ensure that developing countries do not lose out.

Helen Dennis, Policy and Advocacy Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation and the report’s author said:

“March 2019 is now looming, but without clarity on a Withdrawal Agreement and transition period, many Fairtrade producers still don’t have guaranteed access to the UK market after Brexit Day.

“Fairtrade producers around the world will be watching these negotiations with bated breath as what is decided will directly impact them.

“There could still be an opportunity to rethink UK trade policy with development at the heart, but without swift progress to secure a deal, good work that has been built up to support farmers in developing nations, including through Fairtrade, will be at risk.”  

Read the Delivering a 'Fairtrade Brexit' report

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Notes to Editors

For more information, images and spokespeople please contact:

Justin Avern
Head of Media Relations
020 7440 7686/ 07770 957 451
Martine Parry
Media and PR Manager
020 7440 7695

William Davies
Media and PR Manager
020 7440 8597
Emily McCoy
Media Officer
020 7440 7692

About Fairtrade

The international Fairtrade system exists to end poverty through trade. The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body and NGO which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on more than 5,000 products which meet its rigorous social, economic and environmental standards. This independent label signifies to consumers that farmers and workers across 73 developing countries are getting a better deal from trade.

Today, more than 1.6 million people who work hard to produce coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas, wines, flowers, cotton, gold and many other products benefit from Fairtrade, which campaigns for as well as enables a fairer system of global trade.

Beyond certification, the Fairtrade Foundation is deepening its impact by delivering specialist programmes to help disadvantaged communities boost productivity in the face of challenges such as climate change.