Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Oxfam Calls on Starbucks to Stop Bullying the Poor

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Oxfam Calls on Starbucks to Stop Bullying the Poor

Starbucks must respect Ethiopia's right to choose its own path to development

Global coffee giant Starbucks has refused to move forward in negotiations with Ethiopia unless it's on the company's own terms, according to international agency Oxfam. Oxfam is calling on Starbucks to stop forcing an alternate agreement on Ethiopia, and come to the table open and willing to negotiate.

Last year the Ethiopian government filed applications to trademark its most famous coffee names, Sidamo, Harar and Yirgacheffe. Securing the rights to these names would enable Ethiopia to capture more value from the trade, by controlling their use in the market and thereby enabling farmers to receive a greater share of the retail price. Ethiopia's coffee industry and farmers could earn an estimated $88 million (USD) extra per year.

Over the course of the last week, Oxfam has spoken out publicly regarding Starbucks' opposition to the Ethiopia's trademarking project.

"Starbucks has engaged in some positive initial steps in helping coffee farmers living in poverty I don't understand why they won't take the next step and come to the table to discuss Ethiopia's proposal in good faith," said Seth Petchers, Oxfam International's Make Trade Fair campaign coffee lead.

Ethiopia has chosen a strategy that best meets its needs, and in consultation with intellectual property experts and legal counsel, has asked Starbucks to sign an agreement that acknowledges Ethiopia's ownership of its coffee names. If Starbucks is genuine in its commitment to farmers it will sign the licensing agreement Ethiopia has offered it, Oxfam says.

Ethiopia's motivations for this project are clear:
Coffee makes up 40-50% of Ethiopia's export income;
15 million Ethiopians are dependent on the coffee trade;
One in four people live on less than $1 a day and 80% of its people live on less than $2 a day; and
Ethiopia ranks in the bottom 10 of the UN human development index of income, health and education.

In a statement released yesterday, Starbucks called on Oxfam to end its campaign.

"Starbucks' position on this is deflecting focus from its responsibilities to Ethiopian farmers. We want to work to find a win-win solution," said Petchers. "Oxfam believes it is critical to engage with corporations in order to achieve long-term sustainable solutions for alleviating poverty." Oxfam has engaged with Starbucks for over a year on this issue.

"However, engaging the public is also a critical element in creating real long-term change, and Oxfam will continue to do this," Petchers continued. Since last Thursday, over 60,000 concerned consumers have faxed or called Starbucks to express their support for Ethiopian coffee farmers.

In the same statement, Starbucks claimed the trademarking initiative might hurt farmers if "roasters stop purchasing Ethiopian coffees." The suggestion that Ethiopia's request for Starbucks and other companies to recognize the country's rights to its coffee names could result in punishment suggests an unwillingness to work in true partnership with farmers.

"Ethiopia wants to continue in its role as a growing source of coffees for the world market - it's in our own interest. We have 15 million poor people who depend on income from coffee every single day. Our goal for this project, which was developed in consultation with the farmers unions, is to help improve conditions for poor coffee growers," said Getachew Mengiste, Director General, Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office. Mengiste will formally respond to Starbucks' recent offer Friday, November 3.

If Ethiopia secures the ownership of its coffee names in the US, as it has in the European Union and Canada, it hopes to work with the coffee industry to build its coffee brands and the value associated with them. Ultimately this will result in a greater portion of the profits to be shared more fairly among farmers and the global coffee industry. /End


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Criminalising Of Rap Music

For black youth in America, there can be only three ways out of the ghetto: athletics, music or drug dealing. And for every individual who succeeds in making it out, dozens more attach themselves to their celebrity crews in order to bask in the reflected glory, and partake of the lifestyle. And what rap musician can afford to turn their back entirely on the ‘hood, when staying street and staying real is what their audience demands of them..?


Government: New Zealand To Stay At Orange For Now
With New Zealand expecting to see Omicron cases rise during the winter, the Orange setting remains appropriate for managing this stage of the outbreak, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today... More>>

Australian Election: Prime Minister Congratulates Anthony Albanese
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated Anthony Albanese and the Australian Labor Party on winning the Australian Federal election, and has acknowledged outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison... More>>

Government: Helps Supermarket Shoppers Get A Fair Deal
Urgent Budget night legislation to stop major supermarkets blocking competitors from accessing land for new stores has been introduced today, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Dr David Clark said... More>>

Government: Independent Panel Appointed To Review Electoral Law
Justice Minister Kris Faafoi today announced appointments to the independent panel that will lead a review of New Zealand’s electoral law. “This panel, appointed by an independent panel of experts... More>>

Trade: Prime Minister To Visit United States
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is leading a trade mission to the United States this week as part of the Government’s reconnection strategy to support export growth and the return of tourists post COVID-19... More>>

National: Jacqui Dean To Retire From Parliament In 2023

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has announced that she will not be seeking re-election at the 2023 election. “I have advised the President and Leader of the National Party that I have decided not to put my name forward... More>>




InfoPages News Channels