Global trade practices are until today not separated from criticisms regarding access inequality, particularly for the actors in developing countries. Trade activities are considered too focused on the efforts to increase the income, thus raising various issues including labor exploitation and environmental issues. Meanwhile, fair trade activists believe the trade activities actually can be in line with labor empowerment, access equality for traders, and environmental preservation.
Those are revealed during the discussion during World Fair Trade Day 2017 which was held at Faculty of Social and Political Sciences UGM on Friday (19/5). The discussion presented several speakers, including Agung Alits (Secretary General of Indonesia Fair Trade Forum 2005-2015), Dr. Rimawan Pradiptyo (Head of Economic Team of Indonesian Business Competition Supervision Commission), and Dra. Siti Daulah Khoirati, M.A. (Lecturer at International Relations Department, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences UGM). Also attended the discussion were Mie Cornoedus (founder of Via-Via), Lastiana Yuliandari (Aliet Green), Andre Suryawan (Artistic Designer), and Awan Santoso, S.E., M.Sc. (researcher in Centre of Economic Democracy Studies UGM).
Dr. Wawan Mas’udi, Vice Dean of Academics and Student Affairs of Faculty of Social and Political Sciences UGM said that fair trade became an alternative in the middle of liberalism and capitalism economic system domination. Therefore, many parties are expected to continuously understand and implement the world fair trade principle.
“The free trade which only looks for profits can be faced by fair trade. I think this kind of forum is very interesting because we not only listen to the businessmen but also understand what fair trade is all about. We try to discuss and fight against the hegemony of the world economic system which is unfair,” said Wawan Mas’udi opening the discussion.
By implementing 10 fair trade principles, according to Wawan Mas’udi, the fair trade can become very astonishing, particularly for the government, because it will be an important foundation for Indonesian economic development.
“Amidst the government’s efforts to balance between the growth and fairness, we need to see that economy and business are not only for generalizing profits but also being the facilities to increase common welfare whilst ensuring environmental balance, etc.,” he added.
Furthermore, Agung Alits said the management system on economy and international trade tends to disserve the producers because the policies never stand on their side, particularly small business producers. Therefore, fair trade becomes an alternative for facing it.
“Today, fair trade becomes an alternative as a movement and as a business model. There are sympathy and empathy in the implementation of 10 fair trade principles which are expected to reduce poverty level,” said Agung.
In the discussion which was the result of cooperation between Institute of International Studies (IIS) and World Trade Study Centre UGM, Vinie Puspaningrum said fair trade is essential to be understood as a comprehensive trade, namely the trade which places the government to encourage fair trade practices and cut intermediaries who exist in the trading chain.
“Although we cut the intermediaries, their future has to be considered. We are not supposed to erase the intermediaries’ chain, sacrificing Indonesian society who relies on the sector as their main livelihood. It means we need to think about the empowerment scheme thus they can also be involved in the fair trade schemes,” said the Head of World Trade Study Centre UGM.