Following Fairtrade Fortnight, an annual campaign to increase awareness of Fairtrade products, Geraint Davies, Member of Parliament for Swansea West, led a debate on trade deals and fair trade in Westminster Hall.
Wales is the first Fair Trade nation in the world, devoted to ensuring that producers are paid a fair price.
Speaking in the debate, Mr Davies said: “I am pleased to say that Swansea has been a Fairtrade city since 2004. In fact, Wales became the first fair trade nation in 2008, and a lot of people in Swansea worked for that title.”
“The fair-trade principle is that we should not outsource abuse—whether in terms of human rights or environmental standards—and then import products made under such conditions, creating unfair competition for domestic producers, who have to live up to high environmental and ethical standards.
“It is important that we do not import products that are produced below our standards and by virtual slave labour. Such imports naturally lead to people complaining locally that trade is uncompetitive, and to rhetoric about stopping trade and how everything is unfair to domestic producers, who miss out.”
The Swansea Fair Trade Forum was set up in 2002 and promoted Fair Trade through workshops, talks, street stalls and had produced a directory of local Fair Trade retailers in the city.
Critics claim that Brexit could risk Fair Trade by allowing the UK government to create Trade Deals in secret that may jeopardise current relationships.
Mr Davies, said: “In a mature and open democracy such as ours we do not want to have trade deals done in secret, and then find out that they contained all sorts of strange things that we did not want.
“By way of example, we would not want to wake up one day and find GM food scraps on our shelves. Neither would we want chlorinated chicken or hormone-impregnated beef, which provokes premature puberty in children.”
New trade deals could also open the UK up to investor-State dispute settlement where private companies can sue governments if their policies risk private profit.
Mr Davies added: “Such arrangements contain a chapter for the investor that completely overwhelms the balance of power in relation to human rights and the environment.
“We need democracy to shine a light and blow out the bugs in the system, so that we know what we are doing. Indeed, we want to eliminate any clauses that are basically designed to stop the renationalisation of privatised utilities and industries.
“Clearly, people have different political views, but in a democracy the balance between public and private should be a matter of debate, discussion and public mood. It should be a moving target, rather than being fixed in one place or continuously going towards privatisation.”
The Welsh Government has increased the role of Fairtrade products in schools, businesses and other organisations by providing financial support to companies that switch to Fairtrade.