Vienna, 5 September 2005 Press release

Fair trade is foreign policy in action


"By opting to buy products with the Fair Trade quality seal, consumers can make an active contribution to improving the living conditions of peasant families in Africa, Asia and Latin America," said Foreign Minister Plassnik at a presentation by Barbara Studeny, managing director of Fair Trade Austria, of the first roses negotiated under the Fair Trade initiative.

"The Fair Trade initiative is a successful example of sustainable development cooperation. By safeguarding a fair income and working conditions for peasant families living in poverty, it offers them a way out of a situation in which they have neither prospects nor opportunities. Training, improved health care and hence better living conditions will enable such families to become independent and self-supporting through their own efforts. For that reason every one of us is called upon to contribute to this initiative," added Plassnik.

The Foreign Minister welcomed the new Fair Trade initiative, which will be of particular benefit to women in equatorial countries. "Flowers bring pleasure, and flowers purchased through the Fair Trade initiative double this pleasure, since we can be sure that the women who work at the flower gardens are fairly paid and work under equitable conditions," explained the Foreign Minister.

"We have been cooperating highly successfully with our partners in the Fair Trade initiative since 1999. At the Ministry for Foreign Affairs we purchase exclusively Fair Trade coffee, and at the EU level we have managed to get promotion of the Fair Trade principle included in the Cotonou Agreement. I shall, of course, continue to support the Fair Trade initiative both on a personal level and in my capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Development - during Austria’s EU Presidency as well," concluded Plassnik.