The International Fair Trade Association has worked to instigate and promote fair trade throughout the world since its creation in 1989.
IFAT is an international network of fair trade organizations, over 350 members from more than 70 countries, including producer co-operatives and associations, export marketing companies, importers, retailers, national and regional fair trade networks and financial institutions and fair trade support organizations.
IFAT’s mission is “to improve the livelihoods and well being of disadvantaged producers by linking and promoting Fair Trade Organizations, and speaking out for greater justice in world trade.”
According to the organization, approximately 65% of its members are from low income countries (Asia, Middle East, Africa and South America), while the rest come from North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim.
IFAT performs its work in three areas: development of the international market for fair trade products; fair trade monitoring, to build its credibility; finally, advocacy to spread this type of commerce and consumption.
- Encouraging relationships among members of the IFAT network: the objective of the alliance is to promote the creation of trade relationships based on meetings between their businesses and member organizations, especially through regional and international conferences. IFAT hosts biennial international conferences.
- Keeping the network informed: IFAT is in regular contact with its members, compiling and spreading appropriate information. The federation sends two monthly electronic bulletins to its members.
- A fair trade product catalogue of its members. The company PeopLink USA used the software CatGen to develop a fair trade product catalogue of the IFAT members.
Currently, there are two internationally recognized labels to distinguish fair trade products under the control and regulation ofIFAT and other organizations, like FLO:
- FTO Mark (Fair Trade Organization Mark), for organizations: a label promoted by IFAT, included in the products of the registered members of the International Federation for Alternative Commerce. It is a way to identify with credibility that organizations that practice fair trade (over 150 are part of FTO).
- Fairtrade Certification Mark (or Fairtrade label), for products: a label promoted by FLO (Fairtrade Labelling Organisation). Used to identify fair trade products. The FLO label has some local variations of its nomenclature, such as Transfair, Fairtrade Foundation, Max Havelaar, etc.
IFAT takes the name of COFTA, for Africa; AFTF, in Asia; and IFAT LA, in South America.
- More information about the International Federation for Alternative Commerce (IFAT), at their official site and in Wikipedia.