National Foreign Trade Council

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According to its website the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) is “the premier business organization advocating a rules-based world economy…the NFTC and its affiliates now serve more than 300 member companies through offices in Washington and New York."[1]

The NFTC states that it is “the only national business organization (in the United States) that exclusively advoates the international and public policy priorities of its members. From international trade, investment tax, and export finance to human resource management, the NFTC’s services and advocacy are a critical link for US companies.”[1] It’s mission includes “influencing public debate through interaction with policy makers and opinion leaders and by convening government/private sector discussions of important issues.[2]

Links with the Tobacco Industry

British American Tobacco is on the Board of Directors of the NFTC.[3]

Against Plain Packaging

The NFTC has been vocal in its opposition to plain packaging in countries considering its implementation. Specifically, it used joint statements with other business organisations in Australia, the UK and New Zealand[4][5][6] and submitted a NFTC consultation response response in the UK[7] and in New Zealand in 2014.[8]

Australia, UK and New Zealand

The NFTC, the US Chamber of Commerce the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) issued joint statements in response to announcements that Governments were to consult on plain packaging proposals in Australia in 2011,[4] and both the UK[5] and New Zealand in 2012.[6]

In these statements the business associations argued that:

  • the tobacco industry’s brands are protected by intellectual property laws and treaties
  • maintaining intellectual property is fundamental to businesses, the economy and jobs
  • there are likely to be serious unintended consequences such as increases in illicit trade which “robs the government of revenue, undermines public health objectives, impairs legitimate business and enriches organised crime.” [5]
  • there is no evidence that public health objectives of the policy will be realised and that there are legitimate alternatives available
  • this policy would pave the way for others stating, “although presently this effort is only confined to tobacco products, we see this as a systemic threat to rules which intellectual property and the trading system is dependent upon.”[6]

To view counter arguments to the aforementioned please visit: Countering Industry Arguments against Plain Packaging.

Cited by Japan Tobacco International in its Submission to the UK Consultation on Plain Packaging 2012

In addition to submitting its own response to the plain packaging consultation, the NFTC’s 2012 joint statement with the US Chamber of Commerce, TABD, ECAT, NAM, USCIB and NFTC was also cited by JTI in its submission to the UK plain packaging consultation. In this submission, JTI did not mention whether any of these organisations had connections with tobacco companies.

JTI states that “EU and UK law concerns regarding plain packaging have been expressly recognised by both Governments and expert bodies” before proceeding to quote the business organisations’ joint statement:

“We believe it is important to make clear our serious concerns with the prospect that the UK Government may mandate the destruction of an industry’s legitimate trademark protection and branding – rights long protected under law and treaties…The rule of law and legal certainty are not just very important for the business community. They are vital to ensure that innovation is encouraged and rewarded and meaningful jobs are created.”[5][9]

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 National Foreign Trade Council, About Us, accessed July 2014
  2. National Foreign Trade Council, By-laws of the National Foreign Trade Council Inc, adopted 1 December 1938, revised and amended December 1980, accessed July 2014
  3. National Foreign Trade Council, Board of Directors, accessed July 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the United States Council for International Business, the Emergency Committee for American Trade, the US-ASEAN Business Council, the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue and the National Foreign Trade Council, NFTC joins other leading US business groups in opposing the Australian Government’s proposed plain packaging legislation, Press Release by National Foreign Trade Council, 1 June 2011, accessed July 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue, the Emergency Committee for American Trade, the National Association of Manufacturers, the United States Council for International Business and the National Foreign Trade Council, Business groups issue statement expressing deep concern following announcement by Her Majesty’s Government that the United Kingdom is starting a public consultation to review the mandated destruction of trademarks and branding in the tobacco sector, PR Newswire Press Release, 13 April 2012 accessed July 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 US Chamber of Commerce, TransAtlantic Business Dialogue, Emergency Committee for American Trade, National Association of Manufacturers, National Foreign Trade Council, US Council for International Business, US Business Groups Issue Statement Expressing Deep Concern Following Announcement by the New Zealand government of a Public Consultation to Review the Mandated Destruction of Trademarks and Branding in the Tobacco Sector, Press Release by National Foreign Trade Council, 20 April 2014, accessed July 2014
  7. National Foreign Trade Council, Submission to the UK Department of Health Consultation on the Introduction of Regulations for Standardised Packaging of Tobacco, 7 august 2014, accessed July 2016
  8. Minstry of Health, Overseas submissions on the plain packaging of tobacco products consultation, New Zealand, 21 February 2013, accessed July 2014
  9. JTI, Response to the Department of Health’s consultation on the standardised packaging of tobacco products, 3 July 2012