Fair Trade in an unfair market: economic competitiveness and workers’ rights in Costa Rica’s banana industry
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-10, 03:36 authored by Layla Zaglul
The Fair Trade movement aims to provide producers and workers at the tail end of the value chain with secure working conditions and just incomes. However, the certification standards generated by these goals are often incompatible with the regional production systems. By comparing two Costa Rican banana farms––one Fair Trade, one conventional-my research reveals that Fair Trade regulations fail to account for the complexities of the structural issues that create and maintain precarity. This article shows that despite the movement’s best intentions it is unsuccessful in controlling the application of its values as it is disconnected from the communities on the ground. Fair Trade’s ideals become tainted locally because of pre-existing inequalities that shape social relations. I therefore specify that Fair Trade would benefit from integrating requirements specific to regional and national production processes––termed here “industry specific” standards.
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