The Rise of Fair Trade

“Fair trade” means many different things to different people, but collectively, fair trade activists have made themselves a powerful constituency. See the opening sentence of USTR Rob Portman’s press release on CAFTA:

Tonight is an historic night for American leadership on free and fair trade.

That’s a throw-away line, so one can argue that the phrase was merely included to mollify fair traders who had criticized CAFTA. Regardless, it’s both impressive and frustrating that fair traders have become so relevant to trade politics.