The OCO attended the WHO Meeting in Manila on Accelerating the Raising of Tobacco Taxes and the Ratification of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products in the Western Pacific.
The meeting was attended by 36 Participants from 20 different countries. A Total of 11 countries from the pacific were represented by 17 participants which includes New Zealand, Fiji, CNMI, FSM, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Palau, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu the other 19 Participants were from other Asian Countries which includes Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Hong Kong SAR (China), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. OCO was one of the 7 temporary Advisers for the meeting.
One of the key objective of the Meeting was to raise awareness and provide countries on emerging issues and trends. Respective countries were given opportunities to share their experiences and lessons learnt on tobacco taxation and the ratification of the Protocol. Countries were also requested to identify country-specific challenges together with their legislative and procedural gaps. The meeting was then divided into regional Blocks and Pacific islands candidates all participated in developing their country specific action plan in raising Tobacco taxes and identification of key actions on strengthening enforcement strategies and legislative improvement requirements.
The supply chain Track and Trace systems was also part of the discussions, WCO and some of its members use them for Tracking legitimate products movements within the supply chain and tracing has the ability to determine where the product was diverted into illegal channels. OCO will continue to work with WHO in its effort combat illicit trade of Tobacco. Illicit trade in Tobacco is a global problem and ratifying the Protocol is an important step towards a global solution.