Global trade - breaking down borders
Friday, 1 July 2016 | Joanna
Britain voted last Thursday and by a narrow margin the people have chosen to leave the European Union.
I was a toddler last time the British electorate were given the task of choosing whether to remain a member of, what was then a much smaller club.
Fair Trade is all about making connections with people in other countries. I firmly believe that as Jo Cox MP said we have more in common than that which divides us.
I am sad that the British electorate chose to close down our connection to our nearest neighbours, not least because I have Irish heritage and have never considered my fellow EU citizens to be foreigners.
But Brexit might prove to be an opportunity to reshape what we think about global trade. The failing and unloved TTIP agreement which gives power to global corporations seems unlikely to be enacted. So can we use the anger expressed by voters last week to argue for a fairer settlement in future? Fairer for the millions of British workers on zero hours contracts with no job security? Fairer for developing world farmers and craftspeople whose goods are subject to tariffs and import duty to access the single market? And fairer for the small business owners who run so many fair trade shops and Suppliers who struggle to compete against big business?
Much of the Leave campaign focussed on turning our eyes outwards to the rest of the world. The EU is protectionist in nature, and needs to be more understanding of the ambitions and skills of those across Asia, South America and Africa who would love to trade more easily with the UK, and British consumers who love their products.
So the choice for the UK is whether to turn inward, to close down its borders and protect its own, or to use the opportunity to work more closely with producers across the developing world and use its influence to campaign for improvements in working conditions everywhere. I know which I choose.