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    Fair Trade on ITC's Radar Screen


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 2/2006

    © STILL PICTURES/J. Boeth ling

    Fair trade has become the centre of intense media attention and a topic of interest to many development organizations. As a result, ITC's senior management held a discussion in March 2006 on ways in which ITC could play a role in fair trade and bring non-governmental organizations - with their commitment to improving life for the poorest communities - into mainstream trade development.

    ITC's work in the organics and coffee sectors provides examples of initiatives which already have a fair trade angle. The Export-led Poverty Reduction Programme has strong potential for promoting fair trade practices in some projects. Though not "fair trade" in inspiration, many ITC activities address social and environmental issues that are natural allies of the fair trade movement.

    Clearly, it would not be practical or useful to take on functions generally carried out by fair trade organizations. However, we noted that packaging, labelling, certification, marketing and trade information - activities at the core of ITC's operations - are of central interest to fair trade organizations.

    What more can be done? ITC has developed a methodology of value-chain analysis that could be very useful to fair-traders. This approach looks at every link in the chain from design to disposal with a view to determining the best place to intervene to extract the best value from each link.

    We've asked Trade Forum to research and present fair trade issues and a session at ITC's next Executive Forum debate (Berlin, September 2006) will continue to explore the subject.