ECONOMY

A Greek fair trade branch

The first «fair trade» non-profit store in Athens has been operating for three months. It belongs to an organization which was launched in 2003 in this country, but which has been running for about half a century abroad. Fair trade is an alternative approach to commercial activity, which aims at reducing poverty and promoting the viable development of the financially non-privileged and the marginalized producers of developing countries. Fair Trade Hellas is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) which returns a large part of the profits from sales to those countries’ producers. For instance, coffee producers receive 47 percent of their product’s sale price, while normally this does not exceed 10 percent. Another key difference between conventional trade and fair trade is half of the sum of the fair trade order is prepaid as a deposit and the rest is paid when the products are delivered. The fair trade network today includes some 650 cooperatives of producers in Asia, Africa and South America, who are offered the option of dealing with fair trade intermediaries, both for the sale of their products and for the provision of credit. These intermediaries act as alternative trade corporations and non-profit organizations that bridge the gap between the developed and the developing world. They buy at fair trade prices, provide financial support to companies and invest in the training of producers and employees. They respect the rights of workers and are against child labor or the slavish handling of female workers. They also provide financial backup for the creation of an enterprise, investing in the training of producers and employees. The first fair trade store in Greece opened at 30 Nikis Street near Syntagma Square in March, in association with the CTM Altromercato cooperative. The fair trade movement has been active abroad for more than 40 years, with over 3,000 stores and 70,000 fair trade product retail points in Europe, which employ hundreds of workers and up to 100,000 volunteers. The range of products includes food, beverages, refreshments, beauty products, apparel, toys, popular art products, furniture and other items.