1996 Consumer Day Message

    This document has been made available in electronic format
         by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA 
                         July, 1996

Source : Review of International Co-operation Vol.89, No
1/1996, 72.

                 1996 Consumer Day Message

On March 15, the Consumer Co-operatives are going to celebrate
the Consumer Day which this year focuses on fair and
solidarity trade with the countries in the southern part of
the world. Thus, straightforward commercial transactions
assume a precise moral significance  which is ever more
meaningful when the relationships between developed and
developing countries are involved.

One of the reasons why large parts of the world are
underdeveloped is that rich countries pay little for the raw
material and food products supplied by developing countries.
Instead developing nations pay high prices for the means of
production - from machines to fertilisers and consumer goods,
the vicious circle creates situations of great injustice which
lead to mass migration of desperate citizens who move from the
South to seek survival in the North.

The small producers of the South, victims of ruthless
intermediaries, are often obliged to sell their products at
prices which don't even cover production costs. Such injustice
must be eliminated and trade should go back to its ethical
values in order not to penalise one of the contracting

This is why Consumer Co-ops, which put into practice the
principles of solidarity and brotherhood belonging to the
system of values they have always supported, intend to give
back dignity and pride to the men and women in depressed areas
by producing and selling the product of their work at fair

With the purpose of finding a solution to the unfair exchanges
which currently characterise the market, some international
organisations have created a programme which includes the
following: constitution of a list of producers who undertake
to apply fair prices, in other words minimum prices which not
only cover production costs, but which leave a margin to small
producers for social and productive investments; an incentive
to promote long-term commercial relationships so that
producers may plan their activity without having to face too
great a risk.
These initiatives enable consumers, who have now become strong
elements, to influence development conditions in depressed 
areas through their behaviour.

In fact, consumers often wonder what lies behind the goods
they buy; they want to have the possibility to purchase
products deriving from fair trade at their usual sales outlet.
Through their activities of solidarity with developing
regions, Consumers Co-ops intend to favour the
self-development of these countries and to identify the
necessary conditions for economic and social growth.

We therefore ask all Consumers Co-ops to behave coherently in
order to support developing countries and to contribute in
putting an end to the commercial submission, which currently
characterises North/South exchanges.

ICA Consumer Committee, March 15, 1996