UAE participates in WHO negotiations on Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products
Monday, 6 July 2009
United Arab Emirates
Concern over illicit trade in tobacco products and its social implications has come to the fore at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Intergovernmental Negotiating Body meeting in Geneva, aimed at strengthening tobacco control.
A UAE delegation was engaged in the multilateral negotiations, as part of the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body on ‘Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.’ The protocol is being deliberated under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
The UAE delegation, led by Faisal Ali Al Mansouri, UAE Revenue Administration Director and Azza Mohammed Al Suweidi, Chief of Taxation in the UAE Ministry of Finance, included representatives of the UAE Ministry of Health, the UAE Federal Committee of Customs and representatives of customs at Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Commenting on the occasion, Faisal Ali Al Mansouri said, “The UAE pledges firm support to the coordinated global effort against illicit trade in tobacco products. The negotiations set the pace for measures to control the supply chain of tobacco, enhance effectiveness of regulatory agencies and safeguard public health.”
UAE’s participation in the Geneva meeting as well as earlier FCTC sessions is in line with its overall commitment to fight unlawful activities in this area, he added.
The legal impact of a possible ban on duty-free sales of tobacco products was a point of discussion at the Geneva meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body this week. It was observed that restricting or eliminating duty-free sales of tobacco products to departing travelers in unlikely to breach international obligation. However, eliminating duty-free tobacco imports by arriving travelers may be contrary to the obligations of the individual Parties to the FCTC that are also in particular free trade agreements or customs unions.
A discussion on a draft provision to ban or put some restrictions retail sales of tobacco products via the internet, telecommunications or any other evolving technology-based mode was also part of the agenda.
Revised provisions on tracking and tracing were part of the discussions. It was suggested that certain key data be made accessible to all Parties, in the event of seizure of products covered by the Protocol, from an international database that could be maintained by the Convention Secretariat.
A possible overlap and conflict of offences listed under the draft Protocol with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime were also considered.
Faisal Ali Al Mansouri clarified that the Protocol was not expected to be finalized in this session as various other related areas will need to be examined. “In addition to objections from certain States on terms that can affect their tobacco exports, opposition from some unofficial parties as well would necessitate a call for another session by the Convention Secretariat in Geneva, either in January or March of 2010,” he concluded.
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