THIS NEWS STORY is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.

The official record is in the meeting’s minutes.

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Tobacco: specific trade concerns

Brazil has introduced a new draft regulation establishing the maximum permissible levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide in tobacco products, and prohibiting the use of all additives in these products (G/TBT/N/BRA/407 — notified to the WTO on 29 November 2010). 

Producers and exporters of Burley and Oriental varieties of tobacco perceive the ban on additives to be a de facto prohibition on 'blended' tobacco products (conventionally produced by blending these varieties of tobacco with a number of additives) in the Brazilian market. About 15 members said that this regulation was more trade restrictive than necessary to achieve Brazil's objective. This was particularly important for some countries, including African and least-developed countries (Zambia, Tanzania, Dominican Republic, Mozambique, Kenya), which depend on the sale of Burley and Oriental tobacco for national revenue.

Most members argued that Brazil gave insufficient scientific evidence justifying that additives made tobacco products more dangerous to health, or more attractive to consumers, especially young ones.

Brazil is not the only WTO member targeting tobacco products. Other members have taken similar measures to prohibit additives in tobacco products in line with the guidance of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Canada's measure (Bill C-32) was debated in the last Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) meeting, and some members reverted to this issue. A summary of the discussions can be read here.


Adoption of the TBT Annual Report

Members adopted the TBT Annual Report (G/TBT/29), which highlighted the growth in the number of trade concerns raised in 2010.  In fact, last year 60 concerns were raised in the Committee, 29 of which were new concerns. Few of these trade concerns resulted in disputes. There are currently four on-going panels examining disciplines under the TBT Agreement (see WT/DS406 (Clove cigarettes case), WT/DS384 and WT/DS386 (COOL case), WT/DS381 (Tuna case), WT/DS400 and WT/DS401 (seal case).
Last year, more than 1,400 draft measures were notified to the WTO, the majority of which (over 60%) aimed at protecting human health and safety. While drafting TBT measures, members also aimed at protecting consumers and the environment as well as setting up quality requirements.


Next meeting

The next meeting of the TBT Committee will take place on 15-16 June 2011.  

Jargon buster 

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