Trade has many benefits—to economies, to families, to individuals. It provides jobs, it provides incomes, it provides life to a culture and society.
I think we can all agree that trade is a highly beneficial activity. But it has a far more significant role than you might at first think.
It’s not just because our product Pipeliner CRM empowers sales that we feel that trade is vitally important—it goes far beyond that. As has been pointed out by several leaders in the Austrian School of Economic Thought over the last 150 years, trade has a peacekeeping element.
Two parties engaged in trade cannot engage in war. If they do, the trade, which is benefiting both sides, ceases. Hence you can see that trade, in addition to many other benefits, greatly assists in keeping the peace.
I’m sure you’ve already noticed how important peace is to our planet, especially in these times. We live on a tiny island in this universe. At least currently, we have nowhere else to go. So it well behooves all of us to engage in peace. Fortunately, we as a race are finally learning that war never leads to peace, as proven by the two titanic and devastating conflicts of the 20th century. World War I and World War II were both touted as “the war that would end war forever,” which they very obviously did not.
Finally, we are seeing the truth—that the most practical route to peace is through trade.
You might notice that today there is a great amount of attention not just on trade, but on fair trade. Fairtrade is the primary fuel of debate and discussion—for example, the European Union and Japan have formally agreed on a free trade agreement. Why has fairness in trade become such a focus?
Let’s make an example of something familiar to any big fan of Italian food: parmesan cheese. It was recently discovered that some of the grated parmesan cheese being sold in US stores contained more wood pulp than actual cheese—and it retailed for considerably less than the pure grated parmesan cheese which people thought they were actually buying.
This is a capital example of unfair trade, in which some company selling an inferior product comes into a market and undercuts the real product. On a larger scale, it has happened throughout the world—mega-corporations have come into countries and vastly undercut local products with inferior substitutes, wrecking local economies. A prime example is GMO corn planted in Mexico by American companies, practically forcing local corn farmers out of business.
Fair trade, by its intrinsic definition, would mean honesty—fairness to people purchasing the product or service, and fairness within the marketplace. But by today’s definition, it goes beyond these. It also includes fair wages to the employees of producers and benefit to the environment in which products are produced. Using this standard, you can see how vitally important fair trade is in today’s world, in which not only war is a threat, but also environmental ruin and depletion of resources.
Economic and Social Stability
Fair trade is capable of bringing economic stability to a city, country or region. Economic stability can also bring civil stability, as can be readily observed in places throughout the world where economic stability has prevailed over time.
What is the first thing that happens when conflict arises between one or more nations? The borders close. Trade ceases. When free trade is prevented, that sweet stability disappears. If it disappears too drastically or for too long, a percentage of the population will end up leaving. Where do they go? Places where they can find economic stability and fair trade. Just look to Sweden, Germany, and Austria where refugees have been coming for years from eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and other volatile economic environments.
When enough people decide they can no longer tolerate living in a particular place because fair trade has vanished, it becomes a crisis that must be borne by many others in the world, as we’ve seen with the Syrian refugee situation. I have personally observed this crisis in action in Vienna. When the Syrian refugees were first arriving there in September of 2015, there were banners welcoming them, and people were meeting them in Vienna’s central railway station and providing them food, clothing and other necessities. When I returned to Vienna 4 months later (I currently reside in the US), all of those banners were gone, replaced by much smaller ones demanding that the refugees leave.
When large segments of a population move from one place to another, it taxes the resources of the new place in which they arrive. This type of scenario was discussed by philosopher Hans Jonas all the way back in 1984, in his work The Principle of Responsibility. In that work, Jonas predicted a mass movement of peoples from Africa to Europe—which, incidentally, has come to pass.
Jonas stated that the population explosion—and Earth’s population has more than doubled just since I was born—is actually a problem of “global metabolism.” When an entire population has used up all the resources in their area, their only solution becomes moving someplace else and doing the same. It’s a solution that, in that movement, becomes a problem. Jonas stated that unless there is a shift in consciousness, people will proceed the same way they always have until our resources are totally depleted.
As discussed above, fair trade includes fairness to the environment and proper use and replenishment of resources. And it is this method of operation and thinking which must occur and, fortunately, is starting to occur on a large-scale basis.
When fair trade is denied people long enough, revolutions are also ignited—something else we’ve seen far too much of in recent history. Unfortunately, most revolutions end up being the subject, in the future, of more revolutions. So which is more effective: revolution or trade?
Desire for Fair Trade and Peace
The fact that entire segments of a population will up and move away shows that the desire for trade and peace is practically wired into our DNA. People will search until they find it. Or, they will take up arms against a government based on the promise of it.
You can see this desire practically everywhere if you look for it. Just as an example let us take travel. In 2017, 1.3 billion people traveled abroad. If you do the math, that’s roughly 1 in 7 people throughout the world. When people travel, they engage in trade: both buying and selling.
As previously discussed, we have arrived today in a digital world, in which many things are transparent that weren’t before. One of these is trade. Unfair trade—in which substandard products, price gouging or one of an endless variety of unfair practices are engaged in—comes to light very quickly, and word travels throughout the world instantaneously. The sales of a product or service can be shut down almost instantly.
This same transparency is what makes fair trade extremely sustainable. When a reputation is good, everyone knows it. When buyers research products or services, they find out who they should trust. A great product, service, company, and sales team all have reputations that spread out like ripples in a pond, only infinitely more vast and with far more impact.
Because of this transparency, the company, the product and the seller appear as a single entity to the buyer. For that reason, they should be considered as a unit by the company—and should always be created, united and branded with fairness as a goal.
This type of completely transparent operation is exemplified by online clothing retailer Everlane who, on their website, proclaim, “Radical Transparency—know your factories. Know your costs. Always ask why.” This type of data is available, through the company’s website, to all who seek it. That is the transparency of the digital world, and of today and the future.
Salespeople: Agents of Peace
Now, how does sales fit into all of this? Simple: Trade is conducted by salespeople. As you might see, salespeople are, in fact, a major force in keeping peace throughout the world.
For this and for many other reasons (including their extremely unique talents) we have always maintained that salespeople should be respected and supported in their efforts. That is why we have worked so hard to provide a CRM solution that truly empowers salespeople to sell.
Sales is, in fact, our best chance for peace, and for a real difference in the future.