Fair Trade is all about purchasing products and items from developing countries in a fair and sustainable way that would not exploit the originator in any way. In past times, leading countries would purchase indigenous products such as coffee or tea from a particular developing country and exploit the natural resource as well as the cheap labor. There was such an outcry over this practice that now there are governing boards and associations which developed regulations as to what is fair for these developing nations, in order that there would be sustainability in natural products as well as responsibility to the labor force.
Fair trade does not only include natural products such as dried fruits or spices. It also includes items or products that are particular to that developing nation or culture, such as sterling silver jewelry from Bali, the basket trade from island nations, fruit from a banana type republic, African drums or masks, or even the little worry dolls from South America. Now with the development of these associations, there are marketing initiatives in order to help the creators of these products market their products better within the consumer context. A redesign of the products may help in generating better sales. A different channel of sales could help. Even certification and labeling has become part of the fair trade practice as many consumers are now aware and are concerned with the legalities of the products.
Fair trade labeling could include certifying that the product was not made using child labor. Historically, child labor was a problem in many developing countries as there was a reliance on the children to help with finances in a family. Outrage over the textile industry and its use of child labor helped with curbing this practice. Other regulations would include ethical purchasing, banning slave labor (also another practice becoming widespread), and a renewable type of farming practices. These standards are helping to minimize the exploitation of these problems.
So next time you are purchasing vanilla beans from South America or a silver ring from Bali, consider looking for certification or some sort of labeling that came from fair trade. Ask the question of the retailer. Be on the lookout for these standards, so that you can be assured that what you are buying is of ethical practices and values. More and more modern countries are making this a priority in its purchase of exported goods.