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Crucial Support For Malaysia's Proposal On Tobacco Exclusion At TPP Ministerial
SINGAPORE, Feb 22 (Bernama) -- As trade ministers meet to finalise the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) reiterated that it was vital for the 12 negotiating countries to fully support Malaysia's proposal for a tobacco exclusion.
"We know Malaysia made the right call on the exclusion of tobacco from the TPP because there are up to ten chapters in the trade pact that could restrict the government's ability to adopt tobacco control policies.
Such policies are intellectual property (eg protection of brand names, colours, design etc), technical barriers to trade (eg labeling requirements), cross-border services, (eg advertising, retail displays), regulatory coherence, transparency, and investment
"Nothing in the TPP would apply to measures pertaining to tobacco," it said in a statement, adding that by simply excluding tobacco from the coverage of the TPP, would ensure no loopholes were inadvertently left in.
The alliance said: "We are confident that Malaysia has indeed taken the right position in proposing to exclude tobacco from the TPP because 45 US State Attorney-Generals had recently written to the United States Trade Representative to protect tobacco control by supporting Malaysia's proposal to exclude tobacco from the TPP.
They recommended excluding tobacco from the agreement entirely, stressing that "there is no policy justification for including tobacco products in agreements that are intended to promote and expand trade and investment generally".
"Surely 45 State Attorneys-General cannot be wrong, SEATCA said.
The Trade Ministers are expected to decide on remaining sensitive issues at the ministerial negotiations beginning today.
"In the Southeast Asian region, we have witnessed how the tobacco companies have constantly used trade and investment rules, directly and indirectly through governments, to pressure the government not to proceed with planned life-saving tobacco control measures.
All TPP participants, other than the US, have committed to accelerating the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the only public health treaty established to regulate a consumer product in order to curb a worldwide tobacco epidemic.
The Asean region has about 10 per cent (about 127 million) of the world's smokers, half of whom will die prematurely from smoking related diseases.
The transnational tobacco companies have targeted several countries in the Asean region as their cash cows and growth engines.
Of the twelve countries negotiating the TPP, only the US is not a party to the FCTC.
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