WASHINGTON — When Taoiseach Enda Kenny visited the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Thursday to drum up business for Ireland, he left with a stern warning from U.S. industry over a plan to take the logos off cigarette packaging that the Americans say could cost the Irish economy foreign investment.
“We urge you to consider the broader implications and avoid precipitous action that could convey an unintended and adverse message to Irish companies and foreign investors,” reads the letter, which was signed by the National Association Of Manufacturers, the Chamber, the United States Council for International Business, Transatlantic Business Council, the National Foreign Trade Council and the Emergency Committee for Foreign Trade.
The letter was presented to Kenny during his visit to the Chamber Of Commerce’s DC headquarters, where Kenny gave a public address. The goal of the visit was to drum up more interest in Ireland among American business. In the letter, business groups warned the cigarette packaging proposal could do just the opposite.
Representatives for Kenny did not respond to requests for comment.
“Our letter speaks for itself,” a representative for the Chamber said.
Cigarette manufacturers have been rallying support against the so-called “plain packaging” proposal, which would see Irish cigarettes sold in bland packages with large health warnings. Australia has a plain packaging program in place, which has led to a strong backlash from tobacco manufactures who claim the packages don’t reduce smoking and make it easier for smugglers to sell illegal cigarettes. In Australia, that criticism has been rejected by public officials.
The coalition signing the letter to Ireland has a different concern: They say the plain packaging proposal could “degrade” intellectual property rights, and “adversely effect American and Irish businesses alike.”
The Chamber first joined the tobacco industry pushback on the Irish proposal in January and doubled down on their objections with Thursday’s letter.
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