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Plain Packaging Regulation Violates WTO Rules

NZ Plain Packaging Regulation Violates WTO Rules

DALLAS, TX: The New Zealand government should reject a plain packaging regulatory proposal for tobacco products as it would violate WTO rules and intellectual property agreements, and also expose consumers to harmful counterfeit products, said the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) in comments filed today.

In comments filed, IPI President Tom Giovanetti warned the regulation:
--Violates WTO rules and the Paris Convention to which New Zealand is a signatory;
--Reflects a poor understanding of the importance of trademarks in an economy;
--Sets a harmful and misguided precedent that would certainly be applied to other products, and
--Inevitably leads to a rise in illicit tobacco products, which fall outside regulatory compliance by their very nature.

Besides harming New Zealand’s international trade and intellectual property obligations, the proposal would also inexorably fail to achieve its intended purpose of reducing tobacco use among consumers, since plain packaging lowers tobacco prices.

Moreover, said Giovanetti, should a society that values free speech even be restricting the rights of companies selling a legal product from freely communicating in the marketplace with their consumers?

“One of the best indications of a free society is whether or not the society trusts the public’s ability to process information freely communicated within the marketplace,” said Giovanetti.

“The proposed plain packaging regulation suggests New Zealand does not trust companies and consumers to freely exchange information within a legal marketplace, which we would think would be offensive to independent, freedom-loving Kiwis,” he said.

The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) is an independent, nonprofit public policy organization based in Dallas, Texas, USA.


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