Prime Minister Theresa May - make UK trade fair

As Brexit moves ahead and UK trade deals are rewritten, speak up now for a fairer deal for millions of vulnerable farmers and workers in developing countries. 

We’re in an unprecedented situation. As Brexit moves ahead, our trade deals with the rest of the world will be rewritten and there’ll be many powerful groups lobbying hard to get their vested interests heard.

So it’s crucial that we speak up now for the millions of voiceless and vulnerable farmers and workers who are so easily forgotten when our government gets around the negotiating table.

Too often in the past, trade rules have harmed not helped the poorest people who work hard to grow the food we love. 

Millions of cocoa farmers in West Africa still live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.25 a day and millions of coffee farmers still face a year-round struggle to feed themselves. Post-Brexit trade policy could make their lives better – or worse. It’s all up for grabs.

Trade deals are usually thrashed out behind closed doors, which means their impact on poor countries can get overlooked. So we need accountability and transparency as negotiations progress.

The Prime Minister has promised a government that works for the many, not the few. She must ensure that includes the farmers and workers behind the tea, coffee, cocoa and bananas we enjoy every day.

We are campaigning for the UK's new trade deals to deliver justice and help end poverty by treating farmers fairly.

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In autumn 2016, over 50,000 supporters signed a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, asking her to publicly commit to post-Brexit trade deals and business policies that will tackle global poverty and deliver a fair deal to farmers and workers in developing countries. 

On Thursday 1 December 2016 Fairtrade supporters and staff delivered a copy of the letter along with 50,057 signatures to Number 10 Downing Street.  

We'll let you know as soon as we receive a response from the Prime Minister. 

MP post-Brexit briefing

Read this post-Brexit briefing for MPs for further information about the role the UK can play in setting the gold standard in development-friendly trade policy as Britain leaves the EU. 

This briefing didn’t form part of the petition to Theresa May. It was launched in January 2017 to support a new phase of campaigning with MPs for post-Brexit trade deals that help deliver justice and end poverty. Watch this space for more ways to get involved. 


Did the Fairtrade Foundation campaign for the UK to leave or stay in the European Union?

We did not actively campaign in the referendum for either outcome. This is because as a registered charity, we follow the guidelines of the Charity Commission – we could not be perceived as attempting to influence the vote either way.

We have made no judgements or statements before or after the vote on whether the decision to leave is right or wrong for the UK. As an organisation, we believe our responsibility is to explain what we think are the implications of the result, and of course to campaign on behalf of Fairtrade farmers and workers who will be affected.

Our view on the implications of Brexit prior to the referendum and now is the same: it raises risks for farmers and workers due to the renegotiation of trading relationships, disruption to supply chains and possible changes to UK policies. But it is also an unprecedented opportunity to renegotiate trade that is fair and works to tackle global poverty. 

What about British farmers? Why aren’t you working to support them too?

Fairtrade was established specifically to support the most disadvantaged producers in the world by using trade as a tool for sustainable development.

The Fairtrade movement and certification scheme were born from the needs of farmers and workers in developing countries living on the absolute poverty line with little or no social safety net and far removed from the markets they sell to. British farmers are able to take their demands for a fairer deal into supermarkets, lobby their MPs directly or have their voice heard through farmers’ unions. The farmers and farm workers we represent do not have this access. They often have little infrastructural support, social security systems or other safety nets if they cannot get a fair price for their products.  

Nevertheless, we stand in solidarity with British farmers. We believe all farmers and workers wherever they are should get paid a fair price that covers their costs of production. We think that the principles behind fair trade can help springboard wider debate on improving the situation for UK farmers, and we are keen to build partnerships with other organisations such as the Soil Association or farmers networks, so that we can together support farmers both at home and abroad. You can read about our thoughts on fair trade milk and the potential solutions on our blog. We think there is plenty of scope for us to campaign together as a movement for fairer trade, but believe the FAIRTRADE Mark itself should continue to focus on the poorest and most marginalised farmers and workers in the world.