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Remaking America
Food Politics
Freedom's Delay
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Unusual Punishment
Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World
Life And Death In Intensive Care

The Fair Trade ScandalThe Fair Trade Scandal

Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich

Ndongo Sylla

Narrated by Don Bratschie

Available from Audible

Book published by Ohio University Press

This critical account of the fair trade movement explores the vast gap between the rhetoric of fair trade and its practical results for poor countries, particularly those of Africa. In the Global North, fair trade often is described as a revolutionary tool for transforming the lives of millions across the globe. The growth in sales for fair trade products has been dramatic in recent years, but most of the benefit has accrued to the already wealthy merchandisers at the top of the value chain rather than to the poor producers at the bottom.

Ndongo Sylla has worked for Fairtrade International and offers an insider’s view of how fair trade improves—or doesn’t—the lot of the world’s poorest. His methodological framework first describes the hypotheses on which the fair trade movement is grounded before going on to examine critically the claims made by its proponents. By distinguishing local impact from global impact, Sylla exposes the inequity built into the system and the resulting misallocation of the fair trade premium paid by consumers. The Fair Trade Scandal is an empirically based critique of both fair trade and traditional free trade; it is the more important for exploring the problems of both from the perspective of the peoples of the Global South, the ostensible beneficiaries of the fair trade system.

Ndongo Sylla is a Senegalese researcher for the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and holds a Ph.D. in development economics.


“I can only strongly recommend reading this book to all those who are unsure of whether the initiatives taken in recent years in favour of this ‘Fair Trade’ deserve to be supported or not. Ndongo Samba Sylla has given the answer to this question by conducting a very thorough research, an in-depth survey and a critical reading of the literature on the subject, which seems comprehensive. The result is, to my knowledge, the best book in this field.”

—Samir Amin, author of The People‚Äôs Spring: The Future of the Arab Revolution and other works

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