US Voices Concern Over Alcohol Bill
Published on Nov 2 2016 10:38 AM
The US Government has voiced concerns over Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Bill at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) due to the international barriers to trade it could create.
In a submission to the government via the WTO, the US warned that the legislation could impact US exports to the EU by requiring unique labelling. It could also set a precedent for further EU members to follow suit, warned the American government, and stated that such restrictions would increase manufacturer costs and create unnecessary trade barriers.
The US commented that it “applauds Ireland in its quest to protect public health with regard to excessive alcohol consumption” but suggested the bill might not be compatabile with European single market rules, and asked whether Ireland would still accept products labelled for other EU countries on the nation’s shelves.
The Public health (Alcohol) Bill aims to reduce alcohol consumption and the health issues associated with it by introducing a minimum unit pricing, labeling, and advertising requirements for all alcohol products sold in Ireland.
American alcohol exports to the EU were worth $1.5bn (€1.4bn) in 2015, and the US government is wary of the “unwanted precedent” the Irish bill might set and the impact it might have on those exports.
The Mexican government as well as the Californian wine industry, accounting for 90% of American wine production and exports and 7% of Irish win imports, have also voiced objections at the WTO. The Californian wine industry stated that the labelling and in-store separation requirements would create “disproportionate obstacles” for imports, particularly new product developments.
11 EU states, including France, Germany, and Spain, have also made formal complaints against the bill at the EU level, expressing concern about its potential market impact.
International public health groups support the Irish government’s proposal. Mariann Skar, secretary general of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance suggested Ireland should “go ahead” with enacting the bill. “It’s important to put the pressure on. The industry will always fight against legislation and want voluntary measures.”
The Irish government has yet to make a response to the comments made at the WTO or at EU level.
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