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Greens demonstrate support for fairer trade rules

As Green Party members agree a motion at their Spring conference to oppose a new Transatlantic Trade agreement, green campaigners have been out across the South West supporting fairer trade rules through their involvement in Fairtrade Fortnight [1].  

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is an agreement between the EU and the US, currently under negotiation in the European Parliament. Greens say, if passed, this agreement will weaken environmental protection, workers' rights, health and animal-welfare rules. The Green Party passed a motion at their Spring conference in Liverpool to campaign against TTIP [2] and Greens in the European Parliament are also actively opposing the agreement [3]

Meanwhile, across the South West Green, campaigners have been reiterating their support for Fairtrade above Free Trade. In Devon, Stephen Best, a Fairtrade banana producer from St Lucia [4], has been working with Exeter based Green Party member Andrew Bell to deliver conferences in schools highlighting the benefits of Fairtrade. Mr Bell said:

"Stephen’s passion for Fairtrade and what it has achieved for his community in St Lucia is highly evident to anyone who meets him. Fairtrade has literally been the saviour of banana production in the country. After the World Trade Organisation, backed by the US, changed trading rules giving American banana corporations’ greater power, small scale banana producers in the Winward Islands faced obliteration. However, Fairtrade came to the rescue offering a guaranteed minimum price for bananas and a ‘Fairtrade Premium’ – an extra sum of money which the wider community can choose how to spend. But corporate power never gives up, and now we see a new threat in the form of TTIP."

Speaking at the Green Party conference in Liverpool, leader Natalie Bennet made clear to delegates the distinctive, principled stand Greens are making against TTIP:

"TTIP would blow apart the power of our democratic decision making. The deal provides corporations with new rights to sue the Government for legislating in the public interest – that’s definitely not acting for the common good. It’s not surprising, really, when we hear Lib Dems trumpeting the proposed US-EU free trade deal as some kind of economic saviour. The Lib Dems are the lapdogs of corporate Europe, while the Tories are its war horses."

Notes

[1] Fairtrade Fortnight is an annual promotional campaign organized and funded by the Fairtrade Foundation to increase awareness of Fairtrade products. This year’s focus has been on banana producers and workers: http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/

[2] Motion passed at Green Party conference, 2nd March 2014:

Synopsis: The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is an agreement between the EU and the US, which is currently under negotiation. If passed this agreement will result in an assault on democracy and will weaken environmental protection, workers' rights, health and animal-welfare rules.
Motion:  The Green Party of England and Wales believes that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP),which aims at removing the regulatory differences between the US and the EU, is an assault on democracy. It would likely lead to the weakening of EU social and environmental legislation and ensure that new European legislation does not stand in the way of corporate interests. The Green Party will campaign against this agreement in order to protect legislation in areas such as environmental protection, workers' rights, health (including the NHS) and animal-welfare

[3] Press release on TTIP from Greens in the European Parliament: http://www.greens-efa.eu/eu-us-trade-agreement-ttip-11801.html

[4] Guardian article about Stephen Best and the challenges facing Winward Island banana producers http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/future-banana-production-windward-islands

Image Caption

Stephen Best 2014: Stephen Best, a banana farmer and President of the Windward Islands Farmers' Association (Winfa) has been touring schools and community groups in Devon sharing how Fairtrade has benefited farming communities across the country.

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