Traidcraft and Fair Trade — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 18th December 2018.

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Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Labour, Blaydon 9:30 am, 18th December 2018

The hon. Gentleman makes an excellent point. I sincerely believe that without the input of those organisations and Traidcraft, we would not be in the position where we now take it for granted that we can obtain fairly traded goods in mainstream supermarkets and other shops. I most certainly agree with him on that point.

The Fairtrade Foundation has recognised that Traidcraft plc’s approach has been an inspiration to many and that the approach it pioneered in 1979 is now also being taken forward, as the hon. Gentleman said, by other brands and businesses that choose to trade fairly. Traidcraft also established a separate development charity, Traidcraft Exchange—thankfully, it is not under threat—which is supported by individual donations and institutional donors including the Department for International Development, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund. The charity works with farmers and artisans who are not part of fair trade supply chains and campaigns for justice in international trade.

So, what happened to Traidcraft? Just as for many other UK businesses, life has been difficult. The retail environment has been particularly challenging. The success of fair trade products in mainstream suppliers and their availability in supermarkets is welcome, but that challenges fair trade enterprises such as Traidcraft on price and scale.

Much as we might like to escape the B-word, it is simply not possible. Currency fluctuations immediately after the EU referendum and uncertainty about Brexit continue to affect Traidcraft. Traidcraft estimates that the drop in the value of the pound within a week of the referendum cost the company £350,000. With most of the company’s £2.4 million of purchases from suppliers in developing countries paid in dollars, that early 15% currency drop meant that Traidcraft had less to spend, and holding true to its long-held fair trade principles meant that it could not, as others might, exert downward price pressure on its suppliers.