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What is Fair Trade

Fair trade is a form of resistance to the free trade system.  "Free trade" has recently reentered our vernacular with the growing movement against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and other free trade agreements.  But free trade is not new.  The concept of a free trade system began in 16th century Imperial Spain and was further developed by British economists.  Free trade is an economic system that enables multinational corporations to exploit low-paid, majority-women workers while polluting the environment without regulation.  Free trade enables cultural imperialism, white supremacy, and global capitalism.

Free trade and free trade agreements (FTAs) are designed by and for powerful multinational corporations with the purpose of granting them special privileges, fewer regulations, and unlimited access to global labor.  These agreements thrive on the privatization of indigenous land and resources and exploit workers.  Free trade is immoral.

Fair trade is a form of resistance to the free trade system, labor exploitation, colonization, and global capitalism.  It acknowledges the human beings, communities, and relationships involved in making the products we buy. It means that small producers receive fair prices for their products, helping them build a better future for themselves and their communities. This helps to reverse current trends that reward the middle man or woman more than the producers themselves.

Purchasing fair trade products is a very good way to do your part, but we encourage you to take one step further. If you look closely, each vendor participating in this sale has a story that can offer you a window into the lives of the producers and how they are impacted by the global economy. So take the time to read the producer profiles and get to know the vendors.

Fair trade cooperatives offer employment to their communities at a level superior to that offered by commercial brands. Part of their mission is also to offer economical clothing to the community, create a model of business development that can be replicated by other communities, and to work consistently toward the goals of “justice, liberty and autonomy” not just for cooperative members but for the wider community.

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