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U.S. Business Concerned at NZ's Plain-Packaging Legislation

U.S. Business Organizations Issue Joint Statement Expressing Deep Concern with the New Zealand Government Proceeding with Plain-Packaging Legislation

Washington, D.C., February 9, 2014 - The Emergency Committee for American Trade, National Association of Manufacturers, National Foreign Trade Council, US-ASEAN Business Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and United States Council for International Business issued the following statement concerning the New Zealand Government proceeding with plain-packaging legislation in the Parliament this week.

“We are deeply disturbed to learn that the New Zealand Government is proceeding with plain packaging legislation in the Parliament this week. This bill, in effect, eliminates the right of a business to use its trademarks in every-day commerce. We respect the right of New Zealand to regulate in the public interest, but this is the wrong approach. It will violate New Zealand’s international-trade obligations, while facilitating illicit trade and counterfeiting. Above all, there is no compelling evidence that it will actually advance the public interest. Science and evidence are essential to ensure that regulations advance a legitimate governmental objective and do not unnecessarily impede trade. It is not necessary to destroy intellectual property as this proposal would do in order to regulate effectively in the public interest. We are also concerned about the broad implications for other products and industries of this precautionary approach against which we have long fought.

“As representatives of U.S. and international companies, we rely on the rules-based international trade framework and its supporters to sustain economic growth, employment, innovation and prosperity. We would hope that the Government of New Zealand would be cognizant of the importance of complying with its international trade and investment obligations and that it will await the outcome of the multiple legal challenges to Australia’s legislation before going forward with this unwise plain-packaging legislation, especially given the recent indications the Australian policy experiment is not working as intended.

“We see this as a systemic threat to rules which intellectual property rights and the trading system, with their nexus to regulation, are dependent upon. We encourage the New Zealand government to consider the concerns we have raised for the possible impact on New Zealand exports, such as dairy and wine, should other governments feel emboldened to take similar unwarranted measures.”

ENDS

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