This ASI report does seem to have made some waves. Janet Daley:
But even more serious, the Fairtrade operation helps to keep poor countries and undeveloped economies exactly that – poor and undeveloped.
By sustaining agricultural activity that would not otherwise be sustainable in the global marketplace, it keeps backward populations from developing other forms of modern economic activity that might help them climb out of their backwardness. In order to permit wealthy people to indulge in a bit of sentimental largesse, it effectively preserves an anachronism that locks some of the poorest people in the world in backwaters of primitive economic existence.
What developing countries need is to develop, not to have their present conditions of life and work preserved like a museum exhibit. And the greatest aid to real development – and the proven route out of mass poverty – is through free trade, not Fairtrade.