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International experts advise Ukraine to ratify the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products

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26 January 2018

January 22, 2018. Tobacco control experts conducted a press-conference to emphasize the need to ratify the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products by Ukraine.

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During the event, the participants discussed the issues of tobacco smuggling in the EU and the benefits of Ukraine in case of joining the Protocol in strengthening international coordination to combat the problem of illicit trade. The Protocol is an international instrument to combat the smuggling of tobacco products. This document is the first protocol of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ratified by Ukraine in 2006.

"Illicit trade increases accessibility and affordability of tobacco products, fuels criminal activities and results in loss of government revenue. To fight illicit trade, Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) adopted in 2012, the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, as the first Protocol, built upon Article 15 of the WHO FCTC. The new treaty provides tools for preventing and controlling illicit trade by securing the supply chain, including by establishing an international tracking and tracing system, through dissuasive law enforcement measures and a suite of measures to enable international cooperation.

To date, the Protocol counts 34 Parties. Seven more ratifications are required by 2 July 2018 for its entry into force and the organization of the first session of the meeting of Parties (MOP1) right after the eight session of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) in October 2018. The Convention Secretariat invites Ukraine to consider becoming Party to the Protocol as soon as possible," said Dr. Patrick Musavuli Luhindi, a representative of the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

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As of January 2018, the Protocol has already been ratified by 34 Parties, including Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus and the European Union as a whole. The protocol will come into force 90 days after it is ratified by the first 40 countries.

"International negotiations to control illicit trade in tobacco products were triggered by decades of tobacco companies profiting from smuggling, and the European Union played a key role in reaching a global agreement on the topic, the Illicit Trade Protocol. The EU is now the first region in the world to have developed a transnational tracking and tracing system of tobacco products, with the potential to control tobacco smuggling far more effectively than is currently the case. But the EU and its Member States should not be the only ones sitting at the negotiating table. Ukraine should ratify the Protocol before the 2nd of July so that they can also negotiate at the first meeting of the Parties on an equal basis. That first meeting will determine many aspects of the Illicit Trade Protocol and it would be a shame for Ukraine to miss the boat” said Florence Berteletti from the Smoke Free Partnership.

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Accession to the Protocol along with 40 countries, will enable Ukraine's participation in the first Meeting of the Parties of the Protocol in November 2018, where Parties will decide the main issues of participation of countries, financial contributions and resources for the implementation of the Protocol. The Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union (Article 352) appeals the Parties to develop their cooperation and harmonize policies in counteracting and fighting fraud and smuggling of excisable products according to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

"The ratification of the Protocol is an important political step and a signal to the EU of a willingness to jointly combat illegal tobacco trade. Annual EU losses from smuggling of Ukrainian cigarettes are billions of euros. It is a source of financing of criminal and terrorist structures in Ukraine. Tolerating this phenomenon by the Government continues to be a complicity in the crime," said Andriy Skipalskyi, head of the board of the NGO "Life".

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Ukraine has already made its first step towards ratification: on March 1, 2017, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved a bill on ratification of the Protocol. However, the further process has been slowed down on the level of officials from the Administration of the President of Ukraine, who returned the draft law to the Government "for revision" twice in 2017. They refer to the fact that the ratification of the Protocol supposedly requires the adoption of new laws or making amendments to the current laws of Ukraine, the draft of which must be submitted for consideration by the Parliament together with the draft law on ratification.

"The Presidential Administration has no legal grounds to block the process of ratification of the Protocol. The current Ukrainian legislation is sufficient in terms of legal regulation to ensure the proper implementation of the Protocol, which has been approved by all government agencies preparing a draft law on ratification of the Protocol in the Cabinet of Ministers," said Kostiantyn Krasovskyi, head of the tobacco control sector of the Ukrainian Institute of Strategic Studies of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

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According to a report by the KPMG agency, Ukraine was among the first countries supplying smuggled cigarettes to the EU in 2016. During 2015-2016 years, the smuggling of Ukrainian cigarettes in the EU has increased more than 10 times. Ukrainian cigarettes have been detected in most of the EU countries, and these were legally manufactured cigarettes in Ukraine that were sold to smugglers and shipped to the EU. The World Customs Organization (WCO) has also repeatedly identified Ukraine among the countries that are the largest source of cigarette smuggling in the world.

Ratification of the Protocol will become an important signal of Ukraine's readiness to solve the problem of illegal trade in tobacco products!

For contacts: Oksana Totovytska, media manager of the NGO "Life", +38 (063) 261 74 05, (044) 234 93 20, Этот e-mail защищен от спам-ботов. Для его просмотра в вашем браузере должна быть включена поддержка Java-script

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