There are many forms of injustice in our world.
But as we're coming up to Fairtrade Fortnight, we'll focus on just one - the injustices in trade that concentrate power in the hands of wealthier countries and companies and leave small producers of commodities and manufactured goods unable to negotiate fair prices and working conditions.
For many years, the Trade Justice Movement's logo has been an uneven balance, symbol of the way trade is often tilted against the poor. For Christians, this may bring to mind the prophet Amos, who raged against people who sought to profit unjustly by falsifying balances (Amos 8:5). At the small scale, such falsifications - and the fight against them - can still be a live issue in trade.
…. A few years ago, in a conversation with local Fairtrade supporters, one Ghanaian producer talked about how her cooperative was helping its members to ensure that the balances purchasers used to weigh products were accurately read, so that the producers got what they were owed. It felt quite Biblical!
On a larger scale, the Fair Trade movement's standards help to 'tip the balance' back towards fairness overall by, for example, requiring companies that purchase Fairtrade goods to pay a price that covers or moves towards covering the costs of sustainable production. Fair Trade can also involve increasing producers' negotiating power in other ways: when a Fairtrade producer group was being given unhelpful terms by the government body that controlled trade in their product (and through whom they had to sell), the Fairtrade Foundation ensured that the producer group's manager received training that enabled him to negotiate a fairer deal.
But Fair Trade is only part of the picture. There are wider questions about the rules of trade. For example, how, while enabling the flow of goods and services, do - or don't - trade rules protect workers' rights, encourage small producers and low-income countries to grow and flourish, and address issues related to the concentration of economic power?
These are questions which are going to become ever more important for us in Britain. We will be setting a new trade policy at a time when trade issues are becoming more and more complex, in a world where many major countries explicitly state their intent to pursue national interests above all.
Will the UK, for example, commit to keeping EU rules that allow the poorest countries to export to us without facing tariffs and quotas? Will we negotiate new trade agreements in ways that take into account the good of the weak as well as the power of the strong ... both domestically and internationally?
Text © Maranda St John Nicoll (Partners in World Mission) 2017