In a major positive move for the industry, ETRC reported today that the WHO Executive Board has taken the decision to remove the provision from its Draft Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol
that proposed taxing duty free alcohol sales.
In a statement, ETRC said today: ‘Following the publication of the Draft Strategy in early December, ETRC engaged in an intensive six-week lobbying campaign with national delegations in Geneva. This activity was carried out in parallel with political action at national level by our member companies and by our sister trade organizations in other parts of the world.
‘ETRC successfully argued that customs allowances that exist worldwide for duty free liquor sales to international travelers are sufficient to ensure that we are not a contributor to the harmful use of alcohol. ETRC had overwhelming support for its position from practically all of the country representatives it met in Geneva.’
Reacting to the decision, ETRC Secretary-General Keith Spinks said: ‘I am delighted that common sense has prevailed. In the past six weeks we have spoken to Government representatives from all over the world. Our message was clear – duty free is not part of the problem. It appears that we have been listened to.
‘This is a WHO strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, not to reduce or restrict alcohol consumption. Duty free is already strictly controlled by customs authorities. There is absolutely no need whatsoever for the WHO to propose any further regulations’.
ETRC added that it is delighted with the decision taken by the WHO Executive Board at its meeting on 18-23 January, but is aware that there may still be support for a ban amongst certain countries and NGOs. The industry needs to remain vigilant as efforts may be made to re-introduce the deleted provision into the strategy when it is considered by the World Health Assembly in May. ETRC says it will be monitoring developments very closely.
In conclusion, ETRC said it would like to thank the liquor companies and their trade organisations for their support and assistance during this crucial campaign.