The strong case for fair trade

09:12 | 03/02/2017 Trade

(VEN) - Businesses operating according to fair trade practices have made significant contributions to improving the livelihoods of women from ethnic minorities and people with disabilities by restoring traditional crafts. In addition to efforts by businesses, this also requires greater attention by the community.  

the strong case for fair trade

Fair trade has helped Cau Dat Cooperative’s members achieve higher incomes


Fair trade is a closed chain from manufacturers and distributors to consumers, with very strict standards. Goods are produced according to environmentally friendly and sustainable development principles, while ensuring equality and preventing discrimination among manufacturers and workers.

According to the general director of the Center for Research, Linkage and Development of Crafts (Craft Link) Tran Tuyet Lan, to receive fair trade certification, businesses and organizations must meet 10 basic criteria. Of those, respect for the environment with safety for manufacturers and consumers are regarded as the most important.

For more than 20 years of development according to the fair trade model, Craft Link has supported the establishment of 70 production groups. Beneficiaries are mainly women from ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and craft villages. Projects have helped not only restore traditional crafts, but also raise public awareness.

the strong case for fair trade

Craft Link has contributed to restoring brocade weaving in Na Sang 2 Village in Dien Bien Province’s Dien Bien District

For example, Na Sang 2 in Dien Bien Province’s Dien Bien District is a remote mountain village with extremely difficult conditions. Brocade weaving is a traditional occupation of the Lao ethnic minority residents. In 2004, the Japan International Cooperation Agency conducted research and established the Na Sang 2 Brocade Weaving Cooperative. The Japan International Cooperation Agency created a production team and supported production tools, bringing in orders for the products.

The Na Sang 2 Brocade Weaving Cooperative continued to be associated with Craft Link and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to develop support projects. During the 2005-2007 period, through a series of training courses, Craft Link contributed to restoring its traditional craft. All households in Na Sang 2 currently weave fabrics to sell to the cooperative, which has become their main source of income, contributing to ensuring better living conditions for local inhabitants.

The Green Fair Trade and Production Company Ltd has supported the establishment of 20 cooperatives specializing in producing tea, coffee and cashew throughout the country. According to company director Ngo Minh Huong, tea, coffee and cashew growers in remote areas are always squeezed by traders. In addition, the quality of their agricultural products is not always good, while the selling prices are often not commensurate with the farmers’ efforts. Therefore, fair trade is considered an important solution to not only achieve better selling prices for growers, but also to enhance competitiveness.

the strong case for fair trade

Green Fair Trade and Production Company Limited Director Ngo Minh Huong introduces clean coffee

Tax incentives

Fair trade brings major advantages to businesses because certified goods have high assurance of transparency and origin reliability, while meeting the requirements of product quality. Importers in the world are also increasingly interested in fair trade certified goods.

However basic criteria for obtaining fair trade certification are hard to meet. Do Van Tha from Thanh Phuong Commune in Thai Binh Province’s Hung Ha District, said that respect for the environment is a particularly difficult criterion to meet due to shortcomings of the dyeing process and wastewater treatment.

In addition, the principle of good working conditions is also a major obstacle. Production groups will have to invest more in workshops and tools to help workers make environmentally friendly products in the fastest way. Moreover, despite great social benefits, fair trade businesses are usually registered as non-profits because the tax incentives for socially oriented firms, as laid out in the amended Enterprise Law, remain unclear and businesses still have to fulfill all tax obligations.

“Tax incentives for production groups and cooperatives of ethnic minorities are needed. So is better dissemination of information regarding fair trade in order to create favorable conditions for businesses in the implementation of support projects,” Tran Tuyet Lan said.

Ngo Mai Huong of Green Fair Trade said the development of organic agriculture is one of the prerequisites for helping all kinds of agricultural products achieve fair trade certification and easily export to the world market. Therefore, state management agencies need to support and create favorable conditions for organic farming, while strictly controlling the production process and product quality. In particular, the community should have more knowledge about fair trade certified products as it benefits consumers and improves the quality of life for the disadvantaged in society.

Viet Nga