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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 January 2007, 15:06 GMT
Fair trade forum launch in Perth
Oxfam banners
Oxfam has been campaigning for fair trade for many years
The country's first fair trade forum has been launched in Perth by International Development Minister Patricia Ferguson.

Founded at the Fair Trade Scotland 2007 conference, the forum aims to secure a better deal for farmers and workers in the developing world.

Representatives from fair trade shops, towns, charities and campaigners are among those involved.

Plans to make Scotland a fair trade nation will also be discussed.

The Scottish Executive unveiled plans to make Scotland a fair trade country in July 2006, following pressure from campaigning groups such as Oxfam.

Making poverty history

Ms Ferguson said the plan was part of the executive's wider policy on international development.

She added: "We all share the same goal - to ensure workers across the developing world receive fairer prices and decent working conditions for the products we buy in Scotland.

"Our commitment to fair trade is at the centre of our national effort to help make poverty history."

Chris Hegarty, advocacy manager for the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), welcomed the backing of the executive and MSPs on the Scottish Parliament's all party fair trade group.

We hope that the forum we're launching today will work together with our politicians of all parties to make real difference.
Chris Hegarty
Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund

He said: "Fair trade is an area in which all Scottish consumers, including the executive, can take practical steps to help alleviate poverty overseas.

"We hope that the forum we're launching will work together with our politicians of all parties to make real differences."

Fair trade activism is one of the fastest growing grassroots social movements across Europe.

In 1994 there were just three fair trade products on the market. Now there are more than 2,000 - including coffee and chocolate - on sale in Scottish shops and supermarkets.

Rachel Farey, business manager with One World Shop, said: "For many years, Scotland's fair trade activists, educators, retailers and businesses have been working extremely hard to promote fair trade.

"I think today's conference will make a significant contribution towards making Scotland a fair trade country and thereby improving the lives of thousands of producers."


SEE ALSO
Fairtrade on the rise in Dundee
15 May 06 |  Tayside and Central

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