1996 Consumer Day Message

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   This document has been made available in electronic format
           by the International Co-operative Alliance.
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   INTERNATIONAL CONSUMER CO-OPERATIVES ORGANISATION (ICCO)
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               1996 CONSUMER DAY MESSAGE

       Each year the ICCO publishes a Message on the 
       occassion of the International Consumer Day 
       which is celebrated on 15 March. 

On March 15, the consumer co-operatives will celebrate the
International Consumer Day which focuses this year on fair and
solidarity trade with the countries in the South. Thus,
straightforward commercial transactions assume a precise moral
significance which is ever more meaningful when the relationship
between developed and developing countries is 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 means of
production - from machines to fertilisers and consumer goods. 
The vicious circle creates situations of great injustice which
lead to mass migrations of desperate citizens who move from the
South to seek survival in the North.

The small producers in the South, victims of ruthless
intermediaries are often obliged to sell their products at prices
which do not 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 parties.

This is why consumer co-operatives, 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 prices. 

With the purpose of finding a solution to the unfair exchanges
which currently characterise the market, a group of international
organisations have created a programme which includes the
following:  compilation of a list of producers who undertake to
apply fair prices, in other words prices which not only cover
production costs, but which leave a margin to small producers for
social productive investments; an incentive bonus for biological
cultivation; pre-financing or credit to prevent producers from
having to face difficult situations before having sold their
products; incentives to promote long term commercial
relationships so that producers may plan their activity without
having to face too great a risk.

This initiative enables consumers, who have now become strong
elements, to influence the 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
originating from fair trade at their usual sales outlet.

Through their activities of solidarity with developing regions,
consumer co-operatives intend to favour the self-development of
these countries and identify the necessary conditions for
economic and social growth.

We therefore ask all consumer co-operatives to behave coherently
in order to support developing countries and to contribute in
putting to an end to the commercial submission which currently
characterizes North-South exchanges.

For further information, please contact:

                      Giuseppe FABRETTI
                      Chairman, ICCO
                      c/o ANCC
                      Via Panaro, 14
                      00199 Rome, Italy
                      Fax: +39 6 86320033
                      Tel: +39 6 861 01 71