IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Fair Trade, Diversification and Structural Change: Towards a Broader Theoretical Framework of Analysis


  • Alastair Smith


This paper responds to the argument that while Fair Trade governance might increase short-term welfare, it reduces long-term development prospects by discouraging diversification and structural change. Even though it is agreed that lower-value sectors, such as commodity agriculture, are unlikely to offer a long-term solution to global income inequalities, the importance of their short- and medium-term contributions cannot be ignored. Furthermore, critics have evaluated Fair Trade governance against the benchmark of perfect market organization. However, given the realities of the developing world, dismantling Fair Trade abandons poor producers not to theoretical free markets and successful diversification, but to market failures, capability constraints, and risk management issues—all of which present serious obstacles to beneficial change. In light of this, analysis of the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International is used to argue that, far from being detrimental, Fair Trade might actively contribute to diversification by alleviating some of the real-world obstacles that otherwise retard development.

Suggested Citation

  • Alastair Smith, 2009. "Fair Trade, Diversification and Structural Change: Towards a Broader Theoretical Framework of Analysis," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(4), pages 457-478.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:37:y:2009:i:4:p:457-478
    DOI: 10.1080/13600810903305208

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:37:y:2009:i:4:p:457-478. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.