National Association of Manufacturers

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The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is an influential lobby group based in Washington. In its own words:

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the nation’s largest industrial trade association, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. NAM has long been a strong supporter of a proactive, aggressive U.S. Government approach to international intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. Our members are also committed to working with the U.S. Government to develop ideas and ways to enhance intellectual property protection both at our borders and abroad. IPR protection and the erosion of IP rights is truly a global concern for NAM.[1]

"The mission of the NAM is to be the voice for all manufacturing in the United States." Early 2013, NAM promoted a growth agenda aimed at making America financially stronger. [2]

NAM and the Tobacco Industry

Philip Morris is a member of NAM.[3]

NAM has represented tobacco interests for many years. The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library includes a large collection of documents that mention the organisation. The relationship between NAM and the tobacco industry became stronger when the litigation in the United States started. The tobacco corporations under scrutiny needed help shaping public opinion and lobbying decision makers to recover their reputation.

In 2000, NAM issued statements voicing the industry's concerns about the development of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.[4]

Plain Packaging: An "Assault" on Manufacturers and their Brands

NAM fears the broader impact the requirements for standardised packaging may have on international trade and on manufacturers throughout other major sectors of the economy. At the time of writing in April 2013, NAM is actively lobbying against plain packaging in both the UK’s and Ireland's proposed revisions of the Tobacco Products Directive.To support the tobacco industry's concerns internationally, the organisation submitted responses to consultations on plain packaging in New Zealand,[5] Australia,[6] the UK, and to the revision of the EU Tobacco Products Directive.

In a joint effort with the Emergency Committee for American Trade, the National Foreign Trade Council and the US Chamber of Commerce, NAM warned the Irish government that the proposals to standardise cigarette packs and outlaw branding is an "assault" on manufacturers and their brands.[7]

In a letter to Irish Prime Minister Taoiseach Enda in February 2013, the organisation argued that plain packaging "will violate international trade and investment obligations and undermine the rules-based international trading system well beyond tobacco". The letter recapitulates the often used arguments against plain packaging:

  • it will spread to the food and drinks industry;
  • it would encourage counterfeiting and other forms of illicit activity;

Also, submissions were made to the UK Government and the EU to counter the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive, because

  • it will violate international trade law and agreements.[7]

Within the letter the NAM cited support from other organisations: The National Foreign Trade Council, which represents 250 global American companies, said the proposal for standardised packaging of any product was

  • a serious infringement on intellectual property rights, regardless of the products to which they apply.

The largest business federation, the US Chamber of Commerce, claimed to be a strong supporter of measures to protect public health, but said the proposals would

  • diminish the rights of brand owners.
  • reduce confidence from other brand owners might lead to loss of investment and jobs in the EU.

The main argument is that trademarks protect the reputation of companies and their products. "For many of our members the brand itself, the reputation of which they built over years of providing good quality goods and services, is the most valuable asset of a company."[7]

For Counter Arguments to plain packaging arguments please visit Countering Industry Arguments against Plain Packaging. The coordinated lobbying of politicians shows great resemblance to Philip Morris' PR Campaign Against the Display Ban.

A Loyal Ally to Philip Morris

An internal Phillip Morris document compares NAM to the US Chamber of Commerce, as one of the most influential business lobby organisations in the nation:

It represents a cross section of predominantly large manufacturing concercens, and as such, regularly takes policy positions consistent with our interests. It has been a loyal PM ally over the years.

PM found NAM more ready to mobilize than the US Chamber of Commerce, and PM praised the lobby organisation for "aggressively court[ing] the media on issues consistent with our interests." PM has had a senior executive serve on the Board of NAM and paid dues in 1998 of $130,000 which is the organisation’s cap for companies of significant size, and has so for years.[8] In 1999 the cap was increased to $304,344 based on stockholder equity. The cap insures that no company pays more than 1,5% of total dues. Back then, PM paid 0.9% of NAM dues.[9]

PM’s aim for 1999 and onward was:

To positively influence the legislative and regulatory climate and the policy debate on critical issues facing PM via maximum leveraging of corporate resources (dollar and human) expended with NAM.

The Strategic Plan goes on to detail the ways to "decentralize control of and access to NAM throughout PM". The plan shows that PM aimed to maximalise the cooperation between NAM and PM personnel at all levels, and to use NAM as a hired lobby consultancy.

Further Tobacco Tactics Resources

Notes

  1. National Association of Manufacturers, 2011 Submission to the Special 301 Committee, 2011, accessed April 2013
  2. NAM, About the NAM – Manufacturing in America, company website, no date, accessed April 2013
  3. Philip Morris, Carbon Disclosure Project, CDP 2012 Investor CDP 2012 Information Request, 2012, accessed July 2015
  4. NAM, Statement of the National Association of Manufacturers for the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, 17 March 2000, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, accessed April 2013
  5. Ministry of Health New Zealand, Overseas submissions on the plain packaging of tobacco products consultation, Feb 2013, accessed April 2013
  6. Department of Health & Ageing, Inquiry to Tobacco Plain Package, Appendix A, July 2011, Department of Health and Ageing, Australia, accessed April 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Christine White, Ireland: Warnings over plans to ban cigarette logos, Independent Ireland, 1 Feb 2013, accessed April 2013
  8. Phillip Morris, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of MANUFACTURERS, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, 1998
  9. Phillip Morris, NAM Briefing, 6 April 1999, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library