Consumers make a difference by buying coffee from developing countries. When the EU's new trade agreement with Kenya and other East African countries enters into force, Swedish consumers will be able to get help from a new product label to see which products have been imported without barriers to trade. It writes Diana Van, project manager at Frivärld
Nowadays, it is common for people to want to make conscious choices when consuming and therefore often choose products with some form of ethical labeling. We all want to be involved and contribute to a better world. Not least, there are many who want to help poor countries to develop.
An easy way to do this is to buy coffee that is roasted, ground and packed in a country outside the EU. The trade in unroasted coffee beans is generally free of customs duties in the world, but this does not apply to roasted coffee beans. Despite the fact that the great value is only added during the processing process from coffee beans to coffee.
In Kenya, which is the world's largest producer of coffee beans, there are a plethora of different domestic brands. Unfortunately, none of them reach our Swedish stores due to the fact that coffee from Kenya is subject to a duty. A duty that prevents Kenyan roasteries from competing on the same terms as European ones.
All trade in refined coffee is subject to customs duties. The common duty rate within the WTO is 7,5 percent. The EU is at the forefront and has reduced the tariff rate to 2,6 percent, but the effect is still the same, that European roasteries are protected from international competition.
As a result, consumers are forced to pay more for coffee produced outside the EU, without benefiting developing countries. The money instead ends up in the state's pockets. In order for developing countries to develop, they must be able to sell their goods to the rich world and be able to compete on equal terms.
Something that is remarkable is also that Sweden exports roasted coffee worth 1,2 billion (!) And is also described as a Swedish export success - despite the fact that Sweden is a country that completely lacks climatic conditions for growing coffee. The coffee beans are roasted, ground and packed in Sweden and then sold at a higher price abroad. Shouldn't it be countries that actually grow coffee beans that are leaders in this industry?
At present, you can not buy coffee from developing countries that are not affected by any trade barriers. But the coffee trade continues to be liberalized. Most recently, the EU signed a new trade agreement with the countries of East Africa. Once ratified, Kenya and other East African countries will be given a chance to compete on equal terms with the European coffee industry.
The most important thing you as a conscious consumer can do is to check where the coffee is made somewhere. If it has been roasted, ground and packed in Kenya, more of your money goes to poor people there than is the case when the coffee is made in Sweden.
That is why we at Frivärld have developed the product label Freetrade. The idea is that you as a consumer should be able to choose to buy goods from poor countries that have been imported without barriers to trade and thus support the idea that free trade benefits a country's development.
Because do successful brands like Gevalia, Zoega or Löfbergs lila really need customs protection?