Barter is Back out of necessity

Bartering has become especially popular with people who are most at risk during this global pandemic. Businesses, restaurants, retail, travel, and the transportation industry are all precariously hanging in the balance as we do our best to obey stay-at-home orders. Without a steady paycheck, many people have turned to online forums, facebook and the like apps, to see if their friends or neighbors are up for a swap.

What is Bartering?

Bartering is the trading of goods and services with another person in which no money is involved. This type of exchange started centuries ago before the monetary system was formally established.

Art of bartering

In bartering, value is subjective since value means different things to different people. Also, people may assign different valuations for different things depending on their need or want.

‘Formal’ bartering happens when you strike an arrangement with another person or company and/or in from of a third-party bartering council to legitimize and secure the exchange.

‘Informal’ trades on the other hand lack precision, or carefully laid-out details. These usually occur between friends or acquaintances who are able to help out on a given day, and then the recipient pays that back at some point. If I owe someone money, I could negotiate to repay in equivalent labor.

Skill-basedtrading is when people give their specialized skills for other specialized skills, things that we would otherwise pay someone to do. An example is, I can paint your wall in exchange for you to fix my car.

Skill swapping can be done as well. You may offer to train someone in what you do in exchange for learning about their skill. 

Bartering in the Philippines today

An executive order (EO No. 64 series of 2018 - Mindanao Barter Council) signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in the latter part of October directed officials to revive the “barter trade” in the country’s southwestern region, particularly in the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

A barter store in Cebu (Central PH) will take plastic discards and pay customers an equivalent amount in useful items such as clothes, food and footwear. In Cauayan City in northeastern Philippines’ Isabela province, officials in a village have started their own plastic barter scheme called “Basura mo, Papalitan ng Bigas D2” (Trash for Rice).

Bartering during the Great Lockdown

Everywhere we turn, someone's livelihood has been impacted by the global pandemic and cash becomes tight. So it's no surprise that the ancient bartering system has returned.

In America, one seller listed toilet paper that could be traded for gold and silver coins, canned food and firearms. Another seller on Facebook Marketplace is trading homemade baguettes for rolls of toilet paper. Others are trading dough so people can bake bread themselves at home.

In General Luna, Siargao Island, people initiated bartering though a facebook group which is intends to help residents recover from the economic difficulties caused by the collapse of tourism due to the lockdown (the island has been closed to passenger vessels since April 1). Most of the items often bartered are food and anything in exchange for food. One resident had his old books bartered for seedlings.

With our economy in a precarious state and many people's health at risk, bartering seems like a sensible and humane way to deal with the current situation. No need to worry about social distancing because we have the internet. Use it to your advantage. You might be pleasantly surprised by the response!

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Barter is Back out of necessity Barter is Back out of necessity Reviewed by Vernon Joseph Go on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 Rating: 5

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