Local Producers Urged to Consider Fair Trade Strategy


Deputy President of Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI), Lisa Bell, has urged producers to consider employing the fair trade strategy in marketing Jamaican products internationally.
“We are hopeful that our producers will look seriously at this strategy to achieve premium positioning for our niche products in international markets,” Mrs. Bell said during the Fair Trade Certification Awareness workshop held today (June 11) at JTI’s head office in Kingston.
She said that JTI, through its range of support services including Export Centres and Business Information Points, will assist producers to maintain long-term status with fair trade, noting that the workshop is important in building the capacity of the private sector “to ensure that they can compete effectively in this niche segment of the international marketplace.”
According to a JTI fact sheet, fair trade is an alternative way of doing business that seeks to build equitable, long-term partnerships between consumers in developed countries and producers in developing countries and is in response to the failure of conventional trade, to deliver sustainable livelihoods and development opportunities to people in developing countries.
It focusses on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicraft, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, banana, honey, orange, cotton, wine, fresh fruit flowers, dried fruit, fruit juices, rice, wine, nuts and seeds, fresh vegetables and spices.
Fair Trade certification, the JTI Deputy President explained, provides the opportunity for exporters to penetrate the US, where fair trade-labelled products are in demand, and tap into new market prospects arising from the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), as most of the EU member countries have active fair trade movements.
Europe represents 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the fair trade market and fair trade sales have been growing at an average of 20 per cent per year since 2000. “Fair-trade products can be found in 55,000 supermarkets all over Europe and the market share has become significant in the US,” she pointed out.
There is also the advantage of market access for marginalised producers; sustainable and equitable trading relationships; capacity building and empowerment; consumer awareness raising and advocacy.
In her remarks, JTI Export Promotion Manager, Berletta Forrester, contended that the business of fair trade “has become quite an important market issue over recent years, adding that “in many respects, we are really playing catch up.”
“We certainly believe from JTI’s perspective that it is important, especially in this current environment, that we seek to prepare ourselves more and more to take advantage of niche market opportunities, and this (workshop) is certainly one vehicle that we think can help us to get there,” she said.
Fair trade products are traded and marketed through two distinct but complementary channels, one of which is the product certification route, whereby products complying with international standards are certified, indicating that they have been produced, traded, processed and packaged in accordance with the specific international standards.
There is also the integrated supply chain route, where products are imported and/or distributed by organisations that have fair trade at the core of their mission and activities. This serves as a development tool to support disadvantaged producers and includes marketing, awareness-raising, and campaigning.
Inspection and certification of producer organisations and traders using the fair trade standard is conducted by FLO-CERT GMBH, which is an independent international certification company.

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