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Palestinians to Sell First Fair Trade Product


Fair trade olive oil will hit the shops in 2009, while the occupied territories see economic growth and a drop in unemployment. The glimmers of an economic revival for Palestinians will grow early next year with the launch of their first fair trade product.

Fair trade olive oil will hit the shops in 2009 as tourist numbers in Bethlehem reach their highest levels for a decade. Israeli and Palestinian officials report economic growth for the occupied territories of 4-5% and a drop in the unemployment rate of at least three percentage points. Palestinian farmers face barriers to carrying out normal agricultural activities caused through restrictions in movement and water shortages. Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “We hope this will be the first of many more fair trade products coming from the world’s conflict zones and least-developed countries. If so, it will help to catalyze markets and make a real economic difference to the communities that need it most.”

It is understood that former Marks & Spencer managing director Lord Stone of Blackheath will head a delegation to the West Bank in February to explore the possibility of creating a Palestinian agricultural hub to improve economic conditions for the people there.

The development of olive oil is seen by agencies as an important source of food security, labor and cash. This year olive oil revenue is projected to contribute $123m to the fragile West Bank economy - 18 per cent of total agricultural production.

The development comes after a Palestinian investment conference held in London this month attended by Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair as well as a collection of financiers.
© Guardian News & Media 2008
Published: 12/27/2008


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