Free trade trumps Fair Trade

Letter to the Editor by Erin Hayden.

“Business owners (even ones cooperating with fair trade) in the United States are losing sight of why the movement was created — the producers.”

This quote from Miss Herrington’s column on Friday seems as if it came straight from a communist manifesto, if only she replaced the word “producers” with the word “workers.”

In her column, she implied that somehow so-called “fair trade” would inject “traceability” (whatever that is), transparency and accountability into the world marketplace.

Fair trade, which is essentially a form of protectionism, prevents many companies from having any of those things and often times hurts Third World workers.

For instance, US farm subsidies, which are generally presented to help the little farmer, go to large farming conglomerates and are often the reason American farmers are able to underbid their Caribbean competitors (ask Jamaican farmers).

Fair trade might certainly raise workers’ wages in the Third World, but a rise in wages (especially in the current economic climate) locks many unemployed out of the work force. We can see this as one of the many causes of artificially-high unemployment in Europe and a sluggish employment recovery here in the US.

Free trade, trade without tariffs, subsidies or other forms of corporate welfare, is the only type of fair trade possible.

Erin Hayden

Political science senior