Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:30 pm on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour 4:30 pm, 8th March 2007

I agree entirely with Mark Ballard. I was concerned to hear about the development of something that might be called "fair trade style". I must say that I do not have a clue what that could possibly mean, but I urge anyone who sees it to beware and to steer clear.

Last weekend, I attended the fair trade experience in Glasgow. The event has been held for a number of years, but it is fair to say that this year's event was the biggest so far. I was heartened to see that, so great was the crush of people who wanted to visit the fair trade experience, the hall's staff had, at one point, to limit the number of people who were going into the hall to the number who were going out, so that they did not exceed the fire regulations limit. It was also heartening to see the number of families and older people who had come along to see what it was all about because they had a personal interest in fair trade. We must take a lead in continuing that momentum.

Last week, I was lucky enough to meet the first UK leg of global journey, more than three years after it set off from Mumbai, travelling through 50 countries including Malawi. That fantastic symbol of the global fair trade movement shows just how many people around the world are joining the fight against poverty.

We are all determined to work in partnership to ensure fair trading conditions for workers in the developing world. Partnership is at the centre of our international development work.

Fair trade can also help to bring Scotland and Malawi closer together. Trade is a truly sustainable way for Malawians to escape poverty and build a better life for themselves. Through the international development fund, the Scottish Executive is supporting the work of Imani Enterprise, a fair trade consultancy with offices in Scotland and Malawi, to encourage sustainable, mutually beneficial trade between the two countries and to help promote Malawian products in Scotland.

We are providing more than £200,000 for a project that will help to develop Malawi trade policy, by identifying and then training Malawian producers to access export markets and by showcasing Malawian products in Scotland via a Malawi trade fair, thereby opening up the Scottish market. That will make a key contribution to our commitments on sustainable economic development in our co-operation agreement with Malawi. That will not only help to develop Malawi's economy, but, we hope, result in greater sales in Scotland of fairly traded goods from Malawi such as tea, coffee and nuts. I should also say that members will be able to sample some of those goods at this evening's reception.

Raising awareness of fair trade is hugely important, as is developing an understanding of the wider issues of trade justice, but the problem of global inequality can be solved only by taking action. I am delighted that there is such enthusiasm for fair trade in Scotland—and across the political spectrum in particular. However, we must not rest on our laurels because we have so much more to do. I look forward to working closely with members in the future on helping to make Scotland a truly fair trade nation.

Meeting closed at 16:41.