Fairness in trade II: Export subsidies and the fair trade movement

Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA, mathias_risse{at}ksg.harvard.edu ' + u + '@' + d + ' '//--> It is a widespread view that support for Fair Trade is called for, whereas agricultural subsidies are pegged as unjustifiable. Though one supports farmers in developing countries while the other does the same for those in already developed ones, there are, nonetheless, similarities between both scenarios. Both are economically `inefficient', upholding production beyond what the market would sustain. In both cases, supportive arguments can assume two forms. First, such arguments might draw on normative claims made by producers. In the case of agricultural subsidies, farmers in developed countries assert claims against their fellow citizens, who ought to accept redistributive measures to keep them in business. In the case of Fair Trade, the claim can be made by farmers in developing nations against consumers, who ought to pay higher prices to keep them in business (under conditions deemed acceptable). Second, arguments to keep producers in business might be presented as the prerogative of both groups: even if farmers in developed countries did not have a claim to be kept in business, these countries would have the right to take measures to do so because they value their products. In the case of Fair Trade, even if farmers in developing nations had no claim against consumers, it is a consumer prerogative to pay more to keep them in business because they value their product or the process of producing it. There are, of course, differences between these scenarios as well, but in light of these parallels in the moral cases for subsidies and Fair Trade, it will be illuminating to examine the arguments for and against subsidies and Fair Trade together. Key Words: trade • subsidies • fairness • markets • development.
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DOI 10.1177/1470594X07085150
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Helena de Bres (2014). Risse on Justice in Trade. Ethics and International Affairs 28 (4):489-499.

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