Representatives of the tobacco supply chain took part in the COP7 preparatory event, promoted by the CONICQ in Brasília.
October 2016 – Entities and representatives interested in the outcome of the 7th Conference of the Parties (COP7) of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), scheduled for 7 – 12 November, in India, attended the open seminar promoted by the Committee for the Implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The event is part of the preparation of the Brazilian government for the COP7, and was held at the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organization, in Brasília.
Carlos Cuenca, chief of the Social Themes Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the target of the meeting consists in allowing the organizations to express their points of view, thus contributing towards the documents on the agenda of the COP7. “The vital principle of this seminar consists in listening, under the auspices of the COP7, to visions, concerns, doubts, of the various players of society. All interested parties will have a chance to express their point of view and these stances shall be taken into consideration at a later moment for the consolidation of the Brazilian government’s stance”, he said. According to Tania Cavalcante, executive secretary at Conicq, from tomorrow on the Conicq is going to start preparing the stance of the Brazilian government and will take into consideration all the suggestions made at the seminar.
The Framework Convention was the first public health treaty in the world. However, some articles are specifically focused on the production and exportation of the product. Article 6.7 is one the articles that causes concern to the tobacco sector, and it is described on the agenda as “Questions of trade and investment, including agreements, and legal challenges related to the implementation of WHO’s FCTC”.
SindiTabaco president Iro Schünke challenged the intervention of the World Health Organization (WHO) in matters of trade. Tobacco, like other products exported by the Country, is part of international agreements under the supervision of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The fact is, the WHO wants to withdraw tobacco from these agreements, which could seriously harm all exports, especially Brazilian tobacco exports, as the Country is responsible for 30% of all global shipments. Schünke also criticizes the unsubstantiated allegations regarding grower health, recalling that tobacco is the commercial crop that uses the smallest amount of pesticides and that there is no evidence of a direct relation between tobacco farming and suicides.
State and federal deputies in Rio Grande do Sul, largest producer and exporter of tobacco in the Country, attended the event and wanted to know about the stance of the Brazilian government and about the Brazilian delegation that will attend the meeting and if the delegation is going to represent the tobacco farmers, who generate income and taxes for Brazil. “We have had suggestions to limit our production, limit our technical assistance, and these matters cause concern because they are not directly related to health questions and have a direct impact on the economy of a lot of municipalities and thousands of people”, said one of the deputies.
This is what other representatives of the supply chain said at the meeting:
Airton Artus, president of the Sectoral Chamber of the Tobacco Supply Chain
“Tobacco is the financing agent of diversification”.
“We have invested in diversification, but the farmers are very anxious for the lack of guarantees”.
“The requirements for starting an agro-industry, make things even more difficult”.
Benício Werner, president of Afubra
“We acknowledge the work conducted by the Small-Scale Farmer Support Center (CAPA, in the Portuguese acronym), but we are annoyed because Afubra is not allowed to take part”.
Marcos Souza, Executive Director at SindiTabaco Bahia
“We have five thousand farmers who no longer grow tobacco, but the Brazilian government offers no alternative for these families who are now unemployed. On the other hand, 54% of the cigarettes consumed in Bahia come from illicit trade, produced in Paraguay. If they want to blame the industry, who will pay the bill?”
Carlos Galant, Executive at Abifumo
“We supported Brazil’s decision to adhere to the Protocol to eliminate Illicit Trade in
Tobacco Products, the only one that came from the Framework Convention in 10 years. For two years now, we have been waiting for Brazil’s adhesion. We claim the right of the sector to express its position on the subject, as this could mean a lot.”
Rosane Petry, representative of AmproTabaco
“Diversification cannot be carried out drastically, considering the economic reality of the Country”.
After these stances, Cuenca addressed some of the questionings that came up during the seminar:
Access of the public and the press to the venue
There will be credentials for the public and the press, but the COPs have adopted a position that all processes should remain within the range of the Parties and we believe that the trend will hold at the next conference.
Composition of the Brazilian delegation
The Brazilian delegation will follow its historical parameters. It is a government delegation, complying with the principles of article 5.3, whose objective consists in preventing the Convention from any interference from players either directly or indirectly linked to the tobacco industry. For this reason, the delegation will be strictly government-related, consisting of Conicq members, which include a rural representation and will therefore take into consideration the various interests involved, whether related to public health, or economic interests.
Adhesion of Brazil to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products
At the moment, the Protocol is at the Civil House, where the subject is under study.
We hope it will be forwarded to Congress before the COP7. We encourage the different parties to get mobilized in order to get this done in the shortest time possible.
WHO x WTO
The Secretariat has been asked to conduct a study on the subject in order to update the understanding of the Parties on international Juridical Regimes that are at the same hierarchical position. According to Cuenca, if two regimes present controversial resolutions, the parties are entitled to resort to either of them.
Diversification, protection of the environment and people’s health
In relation to articles 17 and 18, during the COP6 there was an important negotiation led by the Brazilian delegation. The document was approved at the COP6, but the COP7 does not anticipate any new debate. The existing document will not be renegotiated and serves as reference, it is a guideline on possible options for the governments to migrate to new crops, in the medium-long run. The Brazilian government negotiated this document taking into consideration the fact that, although exerting the leadership on behalf of tobacco control, the Country continues to play an important role in the production and exportation of tobacco. The concept that prevailed on that occasion is related to diversification and not to replacement or reconversion, as things were previously presented. What we will have on this subject is a report of the activities carried out, but we are not expecting significant debates, only information to the parties on what has been done. We will not have the negotiation of a new document. The document in force will continue as reference.
KNOW MORE – Brazil is the second largest producer and ranks as leading global leaf exporter for over 20 years. The Integrated Production System is responsible for this leadership, as it excels in product quality and integrity, with technical assistance and the companies committed to purchase the entire crop from the farmers. This leadership is also related to the sustainable production model in place in the Country, with initiatives towards grower health and safety, preservation of the environment and child and adolescent protection, an area where the Country is viewed as an example by the World Trade Organization (WTO). The tobacco sector is a pioneer and has set an example to other agribusiness crops.
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