Scholars have largely ignored the roles played by government and public sector institutions in the fair trade movement. This article addresses the knowledge gap through examining government involvement in fair trade networks in the context of European devolution and the localization of international development action. Proposing a relational view of fair trade networks, and considering the Fair Trade Nation as a social category for development, it highlights how power sources outside the centralized nation-state permit a political community to associate itself with fair trade. Research from Wales demonstrates that government acts in a leadership role rather than as regulator, conferring political voice and finance while enhancing its international credentials and contributing to the politics of nation-building. Our conclusion is cautious; campaigners celebrate political commitment to fair trade embodied within the category of the Fair Trade Nation, but evidence suggests that government reliance on the market as a vehicle for decentralized development action is limited by how the Fair Trade Nation is currently executed.

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