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Fair trade isn’t fair

Fair trade sounds a good idea. But it distorts the market and benefits a few at the expense of the many

By Peter Griffiths   August 2008

I have spent much of my life working to get higher prices for third world farmers, and I support trade justice. So why am I so anti the Fairtrade brand?

Take coffee for instance. In the 1980s there was an International Coffee Agreement that kept world prices high and stable by restricting production and controlling stocks. Then, in 1988, I did a job for the UN in Vietnam, which had produced virtually no coffee before the war. I discovered that they had a very secret coffee industry plan and were paying farmers well above the world price. The plan was…

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