Leading Business Organizations in the U.S. Issue Joint Statement Expressing Deep Concern with the Australian Senate’s Passage of Plain Packaging Legislation and Following a Meeting with the Prime Minister of Australia

By The U.s. Chamber Of Commerce And 6 Other Business Groups, PRNE
Friday, November 11, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC, November 12, 2011 -

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Emergency Committee for American Trade, the United States Council for International Business, the National Foreign Trade Council, the U.S-ASEAN Business Council and the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue issued the following statement concerning legislation that has been passed by the Australian Senate that mandates the plain packaging of all tobacco products:

“As we noted on June 1 of this year in a Joint Statement, Australia’s plain packaging proposal will violate Australia’s international trade obligations and undermine the rules-based international trading system, without advancing public-health objectives.

Now with the passage of the plain packaging legislation by the Australian Senate, we are reiterating our deep concerns given the proposal appears certain to be enacted into law.   Some of us were able to relay these concerns directly to the Prime Minister in a meeting related to the APEC Leaders Summit in Hawaii.   We noted to the Prime Minister that the passage of this legislation is a draconian assault on the legal rights of intellectual property owners and is void of regulatory best practice considerations.  Australia’s government has legislated in a way that has no compelling evidentiary basis that it will actually advance public health while it will facilitate opportunities for counterfeiting and other forms of illicit activity.  The regulation of industry should not be arbitrary and always be based on regulatory best practice.  Eviscerating the rights of intellectual property holders is not a solution and we will continue to oppose this and similar measures vigorously.   There are alternatives, but unfortunately Australia’s government chose a path that invites new assaults on the rights of intellectual property owners that have appropriately been protected both in domestic law and by international agreements.

As representatives of American and international business, we rely on the rules-based international trade framework and its supporters to sustain economic growth, employment, innovation and prosperity.  Furthermore, we reiterate that protecting intellectual property rights and advancing public health are mutually reinforcing.”

For additional information please contact: US Chamber of Commerce: J.P. Fielder +1-202-463-5682. Emergency Committee for American Trade: Cal Cohen +1-202-659-5147, National Association of Manufacturers: Frank Vargo +1-202 637 3144, National Foreign Trade Council: William Reinsch +1-202-887-0278, US Council for International Business : Jonathan Huneke +1-212-703-5043, TransAtlantic Business Dialogue: Kathryn Hauser +1-202-775-3269, US ASEAN Business Council: Anthony Nelson +1-202-416-6708

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