Farmer's Voice

Smoking: the French neutral package could destroy an entire sector of the Indonesian economy

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It's a bit the butterfly effect. How a French political decision entails serious economic consequences to the other side of the world, Indonesia, and pushed hundreds of farmers to manifest what Tuesday, June 9 at the Embassy of France in Jakarta. This decision is one that will take the French Parliament about the cigarette packs, which are neutral, ie deprived of customization, as of May 2016. An anti-smoking measure perceived by Indonesian workers as an anti-tobacco growers measurement.

After Australia, a pioneer in 2012, it was the turn of Ireland, the UK and France to consider the solution of neutral package, hoping to reduce the number of smokers. If the measure may indeed divert a number of smokers in the legal market, the Australian example shows that it has the perverse effect of an explosion result of the parallel market (+ 25% of packages purchased illegally between 2012 and 2014, KPMG). Ineffective in terms of public health - as smokers buy cigarettes here (often counterfeit) that they are not buying there - neutral package proves harmful economically. This is especially true in Indonesia, the fifth largest producer of tobacco in the world and second largest exporter.</>

4.5 million. The number of people that sustains the tobacco industry in the country of Southeast Asia. Including peripheral sectors - distribution, logistics, part-time work - the figure carries 6 million. Including their families, are 24 million Indonesians whose income depends directly tobacco. Revenues compromised by the introduction of neutral package, and Indonesian producers wish to let them know.

Tuesday, June 9, they were so hundreds to protest outside the Embassy of France in Jakarta at the initiative of the Indonesian Tobacco Farmers Association (ITFA), the Indonesian Tobacco Community Movement (ITCM) and Organic Tobacco Farmers Association (OTFA). Vice-president of the ITFA, Suryana said "can not remain silent about the choice of countries to adopt the neutral package" and regretted "the decision firmly the French Government on this issue." Same story on the side of the Secretary General of the association, Budidoyo, which emphasizes that the introduction of neutral package "will significantly weaken the competitiveness of Indonesian tobacco industry."

In Indonesia, neutral wine bottles in retaliation?

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After their peaceful march, Indonesian tobacco producers have delivered an open letter to the French ambassador in Jakarta to the attention of Marisol Touraine, Minister of Social Affairs and Health. An open letter ... and a bottle of wine unmarked or "neutral." Purpose of the maneuver, show how such a measure, if adopted in Indonesia, could be harmful for French winemakers. Budidoyo added: "Today we would like to invite the French government to cease its discrimination against the tobacco industry and imagine the negative impact of the adoption of plain packaging on flagship products of the French economy, like wine."

While the Indonesian government has not yet reached this end, he is seriously considering doing it, the Indonesian Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) from pleading in this regard. Before you cut the French wine industry in the same way that the French government destroyed the Indonesian tobacco industry, tobacco farmers protesting in Jakarta however considering a less radical solution: they wish to invite the French wine producers, and more generally all tricolor farmers to share their struggle by being their mouthpiece in France. A gesture of solidarity among colleagues who would deserve to dissuade Indonesia take action and to show the unfairness of the introduction of neutral package. Meanwhile, the Indonesian tobacco farmers join their trade minister who comes to bring an action before the WTO against the establishment of the neutral package in Australia, on the grounds that it goes against the right to intellectual property. A violation which, if found, would also cover France, which is also part of the WTO and must therefore comply with its regulations.