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United Kingdom


FAir Trade


Fair trade
As a result of consumer interest and pressure, more and more shops now sell Fairtrade marked goods.

They are products which meet internationally recognised standards of fair trade. The aim is to ensure that producers are protected from the worst effects of low or falling world market prices.

Instead, fair trade organisations ensure that the producers are paid a fair, higher price. To meet the needs of different producers – whether it be small-scale farmers, or workers on plantations or in factories, there are two sets of standards which have to be met in order to obtain the Fairtrade Mark.

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Benefits for all
For around 4.5 million producers and their families fair trade means fair wages, decent working conditions, improved health and safety standards, environmental improvements, and more control over their own lives.

Meanwhile within the UK, surveys suggest that the majority of people would prefer to buy

Fairtrade Mark products. Whilst these were initially difficult to obtain, many large supermarket chains, as well as some chains of coffee shops, now sell fair trade goods, with the most well known products being bananas, coffee and tea. Within the fair trade standards, global trade can work for all.


‘Dirty’ trade
A far less appealing side of trade in the UK relates to the arms trade. Britain is the second largest exporter of arms in the world, with one fifth of the world market.

The government argues that this needs to be protected as many jobs depend upon it. The arms industry receives huge government subsidies, which critics argue could be invested in other sectors of the economy.

This would then generate far more than the estimated 90,000 UK jobs dependent on arms exports. Meanwhile the government supports the arms trade by actively promoting the UK arms industry.


Encouraging easy trade?
Britain is part of the European Union which promotes political, economic and social co-operation between the member states.

There have been several disputes within this organisation recently relating to trade matters, as many agricultural products have quotas and subsidies attached to them which some people argue actually encourages farmers to produce surplus food.

Currency is also an important aspect of trade, and Britain is still deciding whether to join in the new European currency, the Euro. This means that you can use the same coins and banknotes in all member countries. Like agriculture, this also raises many arguments!