Wales: The First Fair Trade Nation

Wales: The First Fair Trade Nation

The identifiable mark of Fair Trade has been around for over 25 years. As a symbol making it easy for us to recognise products that have met the standards for fair work and living conditions in countries all across the world, it’s the foundation built on equality for all human beings. The trademarked logo shows an arm raised in empowerment with a blue sky for optimism and green for growth. Fair Trade has changed the world for individuals, communities and countries alike, pushing for better and also effectively having an impact on sustainability and eco-friendly practices.

So where does Wales fit in?

Welsh farmers, miners and other industry workers have held their own issues with receiving a fair price for their goods just like international farmers and share the difficult position this puts workers in. As the first Fair Trade Nation in the world 2008 was a historical year. They started small with Ammanford becoming the first Fair Trade town in 2002, followed by Wrexham becoming the first Fair Trade county in 2003. By 2004, Cardiff became the first Fair Trade capital city in the world and Monmouth Comprehensive was the first Fair Trade school in Wales. By 2008, 82% of local authorities, faith groups, thousands of schools, over half the towns, 100% of cities and universities in Wales were Fair Trade.

“Through this outstanding commitment we are making a real difference to the lives of producers and farmers in developing countries. We are confirming our commitment to paying a fair price for their produce, and helping their families and communities to trade their way out of poverty.”
Rt. Hon. Carwyn Jones, The First Minister of Wales, Fair Trade Wales

Wales made history with its commitments to Fair Trade. But what does this truly mean?

As a nation, county, town, community or individual dedicated to upholding Fair Trade standards there are many elements composed to ensure equality for all unique workers and environments. This includes a fair and minimum price to the producers of goods, ensuring that they receive an
amount worthy of how much it cost them to grow or generate their product.

When the market price is above this, Fair Trade makes sure a trader or buyer pays the fair amount. Fair Trade also helps producers to form cooperatives for their own stability and security. These are then divided into smaller community associations where people are elected to speak for their collective at the General Assembly and to Boards of Directors. Unlike any other initiative, program or organisation, Fair Trade is an assurance that there is transparency and respect in the partnership between the workers, traders and cooperation owners. This dialogue is a crucial element in the equality of any trading, whether neighbourly or internationally.

Each cooperative is tailored to the region and product, with many including initiatives specifically for women’s voices; where the empowerment of women in the 21st century is respected across the globe. This also relates to respect for human rights. With cooperatives allowing everyone to have a voice, explaining what individuals are entitled to and pushing for equal living wages - Fair Trade has continued to move the working environment and community spaces into healthy and more positive places to live and work. Human right standards include:


  • No child or forced labour
  • No discrimination, harassment or abuse of any kind
  • A ban on dangerous pesticides
  • The right to freedom of association and collective bargaining
  • Health and safety at the workplace

Community development is forever continuing and furthering standards since Fair Trade began in 1992. With Youth Inclusive Community Based Monitoring and Remediation programmes in the most vulnerable places, child labour has seen a reduction over the last 30 years. With more children having the opportunity to have education and children in more affluent countries being educated on how their purchases in the future can benefit others around the world.

Environmental standards are also a major factor. The consideration and application for the safety of workers include using pesticides and methods that are friendly to the environment as much as the workers. Sustainability of jobs, crops and the environment are all crucially protected under the Fair Trade standards and in this, the push for environmentally sustainable production continuously evolves.

Fair Trade has been celebrated across the world for its efforts and achievements in making a positive difference. With a huge emphasis in Wales on educating generations about what it means to be Fair Trade and the effects it has on people, this then helps them to make better choices and help build better and more stable opportunities for producers.

Events like the celebration of five years being a Fair Trade nation and Fair Trade Fortnight raise more awareness. Both of these events saw schools, universities, governmental offices, workplaces, shops and many others getting involved with sharing what difference being Fair Trade makes. With the reason Fair Trade had to begin being tragically about the neglect of others, these celebrations show how far the world has come. The progression continues along with the evolving care for the environment and the future of Fair Trade is clearly pathed with optimism for equality across the globe.

And what does the future of Fair Trade mean in Wales?

Following this success, Wales became an official member of the UK’s Trade Justice movement. This calls that trade rules are followed for humanity and the planet's wellbeing.

“The Fair Trade movement in Wales has been campaigning for Trade to be fairer for many years, and we have often worked in partnership with justice organisations from around the world.

As the UK begins to negotiate its own trade deals, now is the right time to formalise that relationship. We’re proud to have been accepted as a member of the Trade Justice Movement, and are looking forward to working together to campaign for a fairer trade system that benefits all, not just a few.”
Aileen Burmeister, National Coordinator for Fair Trade Wales

With Wales leading the way, Scotland and Northern Island followed in becoming Fair Trade nations and the Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2017. With trade deals over Brexit continuing, Wales and the other Fair Trade nations can remain optimistic that no matter what happens, they will be putting the quality of life for workers everywhere first.