Is Fairtrade the Same as Just Trade? A Direct Trade Perspective

Author: Ian Meredith, Head Bean, Ethical Addictions

Abstract:

‘Sometimes I want to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering and injustice when He could do something about it. But I don’t because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question’ [2]
What do my life story, my decisions and my actions say about what I have done to reduce poverty, to ease suffering, or to stop injustice? I am deeply challenged by this, and so I am working towards a humble answer.
This short article cannot look at all the relevant and necessary issues of trade justice. However, what it can do is identify a few things I have learned through my work sourcing and importing coffee direct from farms.
Trade has been an integral part of our lives for thousands of years, on a local and global scale, and that is not going to change. What has changed, through globalisation, however, is our awareness of, and closeness to, those trading relationships. Who we trade with, what we trade, and most importantly, how we trade, have become increasingly important issues for many of us as Christians. This however, is not a new issue for God. If you read through the Old Testament prophets, or the words of Jesus, you’ll quickly realise that issues of trade justice are not only part of how we should think and act as followers of Jesus, but they should be integral to our values and behaviour.
Part of our attitude and action as Christ’s ambassadors on earth has to be to stand against unjust people and structures, which are so often the root cause of poverty. Surely this is Good News to the poor and part of God’s mission?

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