US Government Warns Ireland's Alcohol Bill Could Represent Trade Barrier

By Dave Simpson
US Government Warns Ireland's Alcohol Bill Could Represent Trade Barrier

According to the government agency responsible for developing and recommending United States trade policy to the American president, Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Bill could represent a barrier to trade. In the 2018 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said that the proposed measures in the Alcohol Bill could “detrimentally impact the ability of US exporters to reallocate product in the European market” and noted that proposals in the Bill diverge from EU-wide requirements.

Director of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) Patricia Callan commented, “This report re-affirms that the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will negatively impact trade, as a number of measures proposed are disproportionate. For example, the Alcohol Bill will require Irish-only labels, including a cancer warning label, to be included on all products sold in the Republic of Ireland, covering one-third of all printed materials. According to research conducted by DKM economic consultants, the requirement for an Irish-only label could represent a barrier to entry to the Irish market. As a result of the additional costs and logistical problems which would be imposed as a result of a requirement to produce a separate label for Ireland, products might be withdrawn from the Irish market or new products might not be introduced.

“Furthermore, no other country in the EU, or indeed the world, has introduced mandatory cancer warnings on alcohol products, making Ireland completely out of step with the rest of the EU.

“It isn’t just the US Government that has raised concerns about the Alcohol Bill. The EU Commission has also said that some proposals in the Alcohol Bill constitute restrictions on trade and, specifically, that the labelling proposals may conflict with EU law. It should be noted that harmonised regulation in the area of drinks labelling is currently being developed at an EU level and last month a new EU-wide commitment by drinks producers to provide more nutritional information and listing of ingredients was presented to the EU Commission, with the aim of implementing it across member states.

“We are calling on the government to make a number of reasonable amendments to the Alcohol Bill.”

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