CFACT members at Syracuse handed out coffee and flyers at Schine Student Center to raise awareness of the benefits of free trade and the ways that it differs from fair trade.
Those who grabbed a free cup of joe and a flyer learned facts about fair trade vs free trade, like that only 10% of the premium price for Fair Trade products goes to the producer. 90% goes to corporations! (Hartford, 2005). Truly “fair” trade (free trade) ensures all farmers receive the accurate market value for their products and that free trade encourages growth. CFACT stressed that Fair trade means intervention to direct, control or restrict trade and that attempts to “level the playing field” by subsidizing the industry are really a tax on US consumers and only prolongs the economic woes of the industry in question.
Student’s reactions were interesting. Many students on campus had never even heard the term, “free trade”. The CFACTers encouraged them to research the benefits for themselves and provided great resources to do so, such as visiting this site.
A few mentioned that they hadn’t heard of “free trade coffee” and asked if the coffee being served was certified “free trade”. Ivory Hecker, CFACT Chair who had purchased coffee from Dunkin Donuts, had a great answer. “I responded that it wasn’t promoted by Dunkin Donuts as “free trade”, so it’s probably not “certified” like fair trade products, the reason being that free trade products haven’t been popularized in the past as being “free trade”, even though there are a lot of benefits to that manner of trade. So that’s why we’re tabling, I said — to raise awareness of those benefits (of free trade)”. Ivory went on to say, “we didn’t use Starbucks because I researched it and learned that about 70% of all their products are certified fair trade. Only a few of Dunkin’s products are fair trade, so we used them.”
Overall the Free Trade Coffee event was a huge success; great job CFACT Syracuse with educating students about the differences between Free trade and Fair trade!