New Orleans For years the India FDI Watch Campaign supported by ACORN International has campaigned to make sure that any modification in foreign direct investment would protect the 20,000,000 small retailers, birani shop keepers, brokers, and others would be done responsibly. Working to build a large, diverse national coalition, the India FDI Watch Campaign has managed to forestall initiatives which would have allowed foreign big box operators like WalMart, Carrefour, Tesco, Metro and others from the India market. This week the government issued new regulations which would allow 51% ownership of multi-brand retail outlets. The protest in Parliament by parties of both the left and right was so significant that all business was suspended in reaction to the unilateral movement of the government in this area.
Dharmendra Kumar, campaign director of India FDI Watch (www.indiafdiwatch.org), issued a detailed, factual rebuttal to the government’s claims, which clarifies the issues:
New Orleans ACORN International released a hard-hitting report that was the result of extensive research during the summer, largely conducted by Melanie Craxton, an economics major at the University of Edinburg, interning in the New Orleans headquarters. Because of our partnership with COMUCAP, the women’s coffee and aloe vera growing cooperative in Marcala, Honduras, and our new relationship with Fair Grinds Coffeehouse (www.fairgrinds.com), the oldest fair-trade only establishment in New Orleans, which has made support of ACORN International’s Central and South American organizing a major priority, we have become increasingly knowledgeable of the curious and contradictory world of fair trade certification by the global agency formed for this purpose, Fairtrade (FLO), based in Germany.
The report, “Unfair Fairtrade,” was released yesterday on the ACORN International website (www.acorninternational.org) and asks some tough questions about the contradictions and inconsistencies involved in the Fairtrade organization. The mission and purpose of Fairtrade were exemplary. Founders came together to unite cooperatives of developing world producers in a process that would yield them a better market price for their crops by allowing consumers to know that common standards and guarantees existed.
Over the years though the costs have grown and in many cases neither consumers nor producers seem to have ended up where either one of them hoped to be in these transactions. ACORN International in a meeting last summer with the best of the national Fairtrade affiliates in Canada found that our own partners, COMUCAP, both could become the first or one of the first aloe vera certified organizations and were somehow suspended. In the burgeoning bureaucracy that many now believe characterizes, the Fairtrade organization, even with the intervention of our Canadian friends, COMUCAP has been stuck in this stalemate status, likely because of delay in paying the significant fees required to maintain their status. Is their coffee somehow less fair trade now? Less organic? Are the members of the cooperative less dependent on the sales through COMUCAP? The answer is “no,” to all of those questions, but stuck they remain. Our research found that they are not alone, and in fact this is a common problem. Continue reading