Specific Trade concerns
Thailand — Health Warnings for Alcoholic Beverages (new)
Seven members including Mexico, the EU, Argentina, New
Zealand, Switzerland, Australia and the US raised concerns about Thailand's
Add.1) requiring the display of specific health advisory statements and
pictures on the packaging of alcoholic beverages.
Members did not contest the legitimacy of Thailand's
objectives to address public health concerns, but they argued that the labelling
requirements created unnecessary obstacles to trade and that Thailand could
instead use less restrictive methods such as public information campaigns to
achieve the same objective. Members also said that the labelling requirements
could mislead the consumer by informing them that drinking any level of alcohol,
even moderately, could lead to health problems.
Thailand informed the TBT Committee that the period
for consultations on the draft measure had been extended to offer members
further opportunity for comment.
Brazil — Labelling of alcoholic beverages (new)
The EU, Mexico and the US raised concerns regarding
Brazil's labelling requirements for alcoholic beverages (G/TBT/N/BRA/362
and Suppl.1). Among other issues, it was argued that the requirement to indicate
alcohol content on the front main label; the prohibition of abbreviations (even
well-established ones) and the obligation to translate into Portuguese terms
such as “light” or “diet”, which were well known by Brazilian consumers, imposed
a heavy and unnecessary burden on exporters and importers. They asked Brazil to
review this measure.
Brazil said that this measure was aimed at harmonising
the labelling criteria between national and foreign producers.
US — Transportation of lithium batteries (new)
Korea, Japan, Israel and China raised concerns about a
US measure imposing specific packaging and labelling conditions for lithium
batteries to enhance safety and reduce risks of fire during their
transportation, including transport by aircraft (G/TBT/N/USA/518).
Members said that this measure was not consistent with existing international
standards; that it would increase the production costs of lithium batteries —
leading to higher prices of products using such batteries for consumers; and,
that there could be discriminatory effect in that US producers normally
transported batteries over land while importers relied more heavily on air
The US said that this measure was taken for security
and safety reasons; they noted that when on fire, lithium batteries were
difficult to extinguish — this presented a significant hazard during
transportation, particularly in the context of air travel. The US said its
Department of Transportation continued to discuss these issues with its
counterparts in international forums. An information session had been organised
at the beginning of March 2010 and the US would review all comments before
finalising this measure, which was based on a regulation published in 2009.
Canada — Additives in tobacco products (previously
Fourteen members including Mexico, Argentina,
Colombia, Malawi, Brazil, Switzerland, the Dominican Republic, Philippines,
Turkey, the EU, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the US, Japan and
Zimbabwe reiterated concerns about the “Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed
at Youth Act” adopted by the Canadian Parliament in October 2009. This measure
prohibits the use of certain additives in cigarettes and other tobacco products
and is aimed at preventing young people from smoking.
Members argued that the Tobacco Act would effectively
ban “blended cigarettes” (cigarettes made with several types of tobacco), which
contain a number of additives prohibited by Canada. They stated that these
additives are an essential component of “blended cigarettes” reducing the strong
flavour of Burley tobacco and does not add a characteristic flavour. Banning
these additives could have the effect of a “de facto” prohibition of “blended
cigarettes”. The delegation of Malawi set out detailed concerns in a document
circulated to the Committee on the day of the meeting (G/TBT/W/329).
Canada responded that the measure was designed to
address public health concerns, to reduce incentives for young people to smoke
so as to prevent addiction to tobacco. It was stressed that certain additives
did increase the attractiveness of tobacco products. The new Act prohibits the
use of certain additives in little cigars, cigarettes and blunt wraps sold in
Canada, regardless of their origin. It does not ban any type of tobacco product
or types of tobacco.
Adoption of reports
The TBT Committee adopted its Annual Review (G/TBT/28).
Next meeting back to top
The next meeting of the TBT Committee will take place
on 23-24 June 2010. This meeting will be preceded by the TBT Committee's Sixth
Special Meeting on Procedures for Information Exchange (on transparency), to be
held on 22 June 2010.