Institute of Public Affairs misrepresents findings by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 04 Aug 2008

Oxfam today welcomed the decision by the Australian Competition Consumer Commission to reject, for a second time, the tired and purposely misleading claims made by the Institute of Public Affairs that Fair Trade is not helping poor people.
Despite factually inaccurate claims by the IPA today that the ACCC had “slapped Oxfam on the wrist” and was “taking action” the ACCC in fact had made it clear – both in the letter to the IPA and in their dialogue with Oxfam – that there was no basis for any action and that the complaint had been rejected.
In a letter from the ACCC to the IPA, ACCC Regional Director Bob Weymouth writes: “Based on all the information to hand and in particular the absence of significant consumer detriment, I do not propose taking any further action at this time”.
Oxfam Australia Acting Executive Director James Ensor said the IPA had spent years trying to find examples of people who have not benefited from Fair Trade and then attempted to sell these stories to the media as the rule rather than the exception.
“The IPA would traverse the arctic to find an Eskimo allergic to snow if it thought it would further their ideological arguments,” Mr Ensor said.
“The IPA is opposed to Fair Trade because they fear that making the market fairer and more accessible for poor people would disadvantage big business, despite members of the business community welcoming fair trade.
“It is an ideologically driven argument that the IPA has failed to successfully prosecute despite many attempts, and the ACCC has again rejected their claims.
“This is the second time the IPA has made baseless claims about Fair Trade to the ACCC and the ACCC has again indicated that based on all the information to hand they again do not intend to take any action.
“The aim of fair trade is to help poor communities around the world get a fair price for their product.
“The IPA has made it their business to try to source an exception to the rule and find people in developing countries who have not benefited from Fair Trade.”
Mr Ensor said consumers could continue to be confident that by purchasing fair trade tea and coffee, they were helping give producers a fair deal, due to a strict certification, labelling and audit process.
“The Fair Trade Labelling Organisation (FLO) inspects and certifies producer organisations in more than 70 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, encompassing around one and a half million farmers and workers,” he said.
President of the Latin American Fairtrade Producers Network (CLAC) and a FLO Board member, Raúl del Águila, a Peruvian coffee farmer, said: "I represent over one million people in Latin America who need the security of the Fairtrade minimum prices in order to continue living and working on their land with dignity.”
For more information please contact Laurelle Keough at Oxfam on 0409 960 100,