Rules for responsible purchasing outlined

27 February 2006
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27 February 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor

Four European fair trade companies have launched guidance for responsible procurement.

Buying Matters, published this month, describes how purchasing has a huge impact on suppliers, particularly in developing countries.

It explores four areas as case studies - bananas, coffee, cotton and garments and tea - and explains the six steps buyers should take to ensure responsible procurement.

They are:

- Establish good relationships with suppliers to ensure a long-term, stable, risk-sharing connection

- Clear, timely communications so suppliers know the terms of trade, have clear information about expectations and are able to give feedback

- Sustainable pricing so the supplier, buyer and those further down the supply chain benefit from the relationship

- Clear lead-times and payments

- Respect for human rights in the supply chain. Buyers should give preference to suppliers who demonstrate they are improving social and environmental conditions

- Continued support for small-scale producers and homeworkers. Buyers should find out who their suppliers are and if they include smallholders, homeworkers and those in disadvantaged areas, they should be careful not to change that.

The four organisations that compiled the report are: Traidcraft in the UK, IDEAS in Spain, CTM Altromercato in Italy and Oxfam Wereldwinkels in Belgium. It can be downloaded at

You can send comments to A more detailed report will be produced in the autumn.


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