Which Countries Are Involved in the Fairtrade System?

There are 74 countries with producers certified as Fairtrade, including the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Ghana, Ethiopia, India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. In total, the 74 countries comprise more than 1.4 million individual farmers and workers spread between 1,140 producer organizations.

The first country to be involved with the Fairtrade system was Mexico, which supplied coffee from 1988 for the Dutch brand, Max Havelaar. Other European countries followed Holland’s example and adopted the system between the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 2002, the Fairtrade Certification Mark became an international symbol.

Since Mexico became the first, Latin America remains predominant within the Fairtrade system, with 56 percent of its participating countries being situated there. By comparison, 29 percent are in Africa, 14 percent in Asia and just 1 percent in Oceania. Some have accused the Fairtrade system of an inherent and unfair bias in favor of Latin American countries, especially since their GDP is typically higher than most African countries. In fact, Mexico is far closer, economically, to developed European countries like France than it is to those designated as “least developed,” and therefore most in need, in sub-Saharan Africa.

The chief Fairtrade product is coffee, making up 36 percent of the system’s certified exports. This is followed by tea (9.3 percent), general fruits and vegetables (9.1 percent) and bananas (8 percent).