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Proposed Trans Pacific Partnership takes a battering

| July 1, 2015

An Australian parliamentary committee has issued a damning verdict on what it knows about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal currently being negotiated by 12 Pacific Rim countries, including the US, according to a Sputnik (Russia) story.

The Blind Agreement report by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee denounces the ‘all-or-nothing choice’ that parliament would be given to approve or reject a deal, the detail of which parliamentarians cannot examine until after the deal is finalized.

‘This does not provide an adequate level of oversight and scrutiny,’ the report said. ‘Parliament should play a constructive role during negotiations and not merely rubber-stamp agreements that have been negotiated behind closed doors.’

The only parts of the TPP drafts that have been made public so far have come to light via WikiLeaks.

The Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, a member of the committee that wrote the report and an outspoken critic of the TPP, was reported as saying that it was known from leaks that the TPP covered everything from giving the US the right to put Australian Internet users under surveillance, to giving multinational companies the rights to sue governments over the laws they make.

But it is specifically the provisions of the ‘investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, under which a corporation can sue democratically-elected governments over regulations they enact that form the basis of some of the strongest criticism of the TPP.

Ludlam said the ISDS provisions comprised a “Trojan horse” and cited the example of Philip Morris using ISDS clauses in a Hong Kong-Australia investment agreement to sue the Australian government over its introduction of plain packaging legislation.

China’s Sept 1 advert ban already causing concern

| July 1, 2015

Tobacco advertising in China is still visible in nearly half of all tobacco stores two months before a new law takes effect that bans such advertising in public places, according to a story in the China Daily.

The Advertisement Law, which was adopted in April by the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, bans tobacco advertisements on all mass media and in public places – indoor and outdoor – as of September 1. Some people in the tobacco industry have said that there should be an exemption for tobacco advertisements at tobacco sales points.

The Daily said that the situation, whereby many retail outlets were still displaying tobacco advertising, pointed to the challenge that could await enforcement of the comprehensive tobacco advertising ban.

But the Daily report did not suggest that there was anything wrong with the tobacco industry’s taking advantage of the last weeks of advertising, nor that it would be anything other than a fairly simple task to remove point-of-sale materials when the time to do so arrived.

Tobacco advertisements were found at more than 45 percent of tobacco sale points, according to the results of a survey released by the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control (CATC).

The survey, organized by the CATC and conducted in June, covered 507 tobacco sales points, including convenience stores and tobacco shops in supermarkets, in five areas in China, including Shanghai, Beijing and Henan province.

Posters and product showcasing were two of the major types of advertisements identified during the survey.

Huang Jiefu, director of the CATC and a former vice-health minister, said tobacco control was an arduous task. China’s monopoly tobacco industry had long been one of the most important sources of tax revenue for the government.

“It is a duel between those who consider the health of the millions of people as the priority and those who get interests from the powerful tobacco industry,” he said.

Hong Kong urged to scrap plan for huge warnings

| July 1, 2015

Cigarette companies are urging the Hong Kong government to scrap its plans to increase the size of graphic tobacco health warnings to 85 percent of pack surfaces, according to a story in the South China Morning Post relayed by the TMA.

The companies are opposed also to a requirement that packs carry a warning that ‘tobacco kills up to half its users’.

They noted that a study by Dr. Kevin Tsui Ka-kin of Clemson University in South Carolina, US, found that there wasn’t a correlation between enlarging warnings and the reduction in the number of smokers.

Tsui Ka-kin said there had been little impact on smoking prevalence after the government first introduced health warnings on tobacco packaging in 1994 or when the pictures were enlarged in 2000 and 2007.

Currently, health warnings must cover at least 50 percent of the surface of cigarette packs in Hong Kong.

The Food and Health Bureau is recommending increasing the size of the warnings from early next year.

Proposals for the imposition of 85 percent warnings have triggered serious industry challenges in other countries.

Zimbabwe’s grower prices down, export prices up

| June 30, 2015

So far this year, Zimbabwe has earned more than US$270 million from the export of 49.4 million kg of leaf tobacco, according to a story by Oliver Kazunga for the Chronicle, citing figures from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board up to June 26.

During the equivalent period of last year, Zimbabwe was said to have earned US$141.2 million from the export of 38.8 million kg of tobacco.

China has been Zimbabwe’s main customer this year, buying 20 million kg of tobacco for US$170.8 – for an average price of US$8.54 per kg.

South Africa was the second biggest customer buying 6.7 million kg of tobacco for US$19.9 million, an average price of US$2.97 per kg; and Indonesia was in third place buying 3.2 million kg for US$13.4 million, an average price of US$4.19 per kg.

But while the overall average export price for Zimbabwe’s tobacco has gone up, year on year, from US$3.64 per kg to US$5.46 per kg, grower prices have gone in the opposite direction.

The Chronicle story said that contract grower sales had been depressed in respect of both volume (down by 14.3 percent) and average price (down by 6.3 percent).

Auction volume sales were said to be down by 8.1 percent but the average auction price was not mentioned.

However, according to a story in The Herald earlier this month, prices have remained below those of last season.

The Herald story said that growers had so far this season sold 160 million kg of flue-cured for US$473.983 million – for an average price of US$2.96 per kg.

At the same point of last season, 177 million kg of flue-cured had been sold for $564 million – for an average price of $3.18 per kg. That represents a reduction in grower prices of 6.9 percent year on year.

Meanwhile, according to the Chronicle story, 97,452 growers have registered to produce tobacco next season, down nine percent on the 106326 growers who had registered during the same period of 2014.

Hungary’s tobacco wholesale system under scrutiny

| June 30, 2015

The EU Commissioner for Internal Markets, Elzbieta Bienkowska, has said that the European Commission could launch an infringement procedure against Hungary over suspected discrimination in its granting of the country’s exclusive wholesale tobacco license, according to a story relayed by the TMA.

The license was granted to the consortium of BAT and Tabán Trafik without an open tender having been launched, a decision that was challenged by Imperial Tobacco Magyarország, JTI Hungary and Philip Morris Magyarország.

“There are other tobacco monopolies in Europe, but nowhere else is it so visible that only people with a good contact with the government have the possibility to sell the tobacco,” the commissioner reportedly said.

The EC’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs [small- and medium-sized enterprises] asked the Hungarian government for a report on the wholesale tobacco monopoly issue this spring, but experts in Brussels were reportedly not convinced by the government’s arguments.

Hungry is said to be being investigated over a new tax on the tobacco industry that the country introduced earlier this year.

Registration opens for annual Cannes duty-free show

| June 30, 2015

Registration for the TFWA [Tax Free World Association] World Exhibition and Conference 2015 has opened at

The event is to be held at Cannes, France, on October 18-23.

Meanwhile, the 2015 MEADFA (Middle East and Africa Duty-free Association) Conference is due to take place on November 23-24 at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre in Jordan.

Organized by TFWA on behalf of MEADFA, the event is said to be the duty free and travel retail industry’s leading conference in this region.

The Middle East’s duty free and travel retail industry grew faster than that in any other part of the world in 2014, according to Generation Research, experiencing a 5.8 percent increase.

Registration for the MEADFA conference is due to open online in September.

Further details can be found at

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