By Matthew Anderson
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Extra resources for A History of Fair Trade in Contemporary Britain: From Civil Society Campaigns to Corporate Compliance
Perhaps more than any other organisation, Oxfam has shown the potential and limitations of an approach to Fair Trade that sought to unite commercial, political and charitable objectives. Over the last 40 years the social, economic and political context of international development has changed dramatically, and Oxfam’s Fair Trade programme has adapted to, and at times influenced, the re-evaluations and changes in development philosophy, business ethics and charity law. Perhaps the most significant change in recent years has been Oxfam’s engagement with the political dimensions of trade and international development, (and the general acceptance by the British public and government of this role).
Although it had set out to assist producers in the ‘Third World’ by developing trade partnerships, there were few guidelines as to how this could be achieved. What was required was a clear framework that would allow Oxfam to assess its own performance and provide greater transparency for supporters and shoppers. An internal evaluation of Oxfam’s international trading programme, undertaken in the mid-1980s, offered an opportunity to review key achievements and reconsider the position of trade within the wider context of Oxfam’s work.
Issues of working conditions, pay, community involvement and the environment were not directly addressed and therefore effectively remained ‘externalities’. 34 But this level of profitability also strengthened calls from some staff that Oxfam should consider a systematic review of the trading principles and practices of HbS. Although it had set out to assist producers in the ‘Third World’ by developing trade partnerships, there were few guidelines as to how this could be achieved. What was required was a clear framework that would allow Oxfam to assess its own performance and provide greater transparency for supporters and shoppers.
A History of Fair Trade in Contemporary Britain: From Civil Society Campaigns to Corporate Compliance by Matthew Anderson