Time and time again I read “XYZ is dangerous, because it could limit market competition”. Lately for example, this is the view the Swiss NZZ holds with respect to the current Fair-Food Initiative the Swiss are voting on this 23rd of September. The initiative calls for the application of the same rules that apply to Swiss products to those imported from other countries. It does not seem unreasonable, does it? However, many of the imported products are far from meeting Swiss standards, which means they would be barred from the Swiss market, if the initiative got a majority vote. Moreover, the production of some products typically though of as “Swiss”, which contain in fact little from Switzerland besides the Swiss flag and the word “Swiss” on the packaging, may become momentarily difficult to produce due to a lack of actual Swiss ingredients.
The initiative aims at promoting regionality, animal welfare and fair working and production conditions for farmers. Three good points that deserve support. Yet inevitably they leave a sour taste in the mouths those who couldn’t care less about the welfare of farmers and workers, let alone animals, because “fair working conditions” usually means that production prices rise and profits shrink. Similarly, for many companies “regionality” is a welcome green-tinged lip service when it comes at no extra cost, more than a conviction they actually are going to execute.
The whole point of “fair sustainable production” is that it limits market competition. That it limits the exploitation of humans, animals and the environment. Having a “free market” means that companies can profit from exploitation, destruction and oppression – without having to pay for the damage they do. Sadly, the latter is largely the status quo – yet it is by no means desirable. And this means it needs changing. It is therefore good, that motions like the Swiss Fair Trade Initiative are dangerous to an unlimited free market. There should be more of them, they should pass the vote and they should be executed.