Ethical trade: a review of developments and issues


Ethical trade is a fast-growing field both in terms of interest and practice, but one where there is little independent analysis or literature. This paper provides an overview of what is happening in the field, including the unpublished debates of many of ethical trade's key players. In contrast with existing work that explores ethical trade issues in terms of sectors and often tries to separate social and environmental dimensions, the paper identifies the common ground between sectoral approaches, examining, for instance, work from forestry, fairtrade, agriculture and the apparel industry. It shows the different approaches that are being adopted, and the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches. It also highlights the consequences for developing countries of initiatives that are typically driven by the North, and how existing approaches do not lend themselves to participation by Southern stakeholders. The paper concludes by arguing the need for greater integration of social and environmental issues, and the development of approaches able to identify and reflect the ethical values of the South, particularly of the marginalised people ethical trade is intended to assist.


Blowfield, M.E. Ethical trade: a review of developments and issues. Third World Quarterly (1999) 20 (4) 753-770. [DOI: 10.1080/01436599913541]

Ethical trade: a review of developments and issues

Published 1 January 1999