Sellers of imported cigarettes face more fees
MANILA, Philippines - The National Tobacco Administration is mulling the imposition of additional fees on sellers and distributors of imported cigarettes.
In a draft circular, the NTA is seeking to impose a license fee of between P100 to P600 on the application for the permit to sell and distribute imported tobacco products.
The NTA said the proposed policy will "prevent smuggling, counterfeiting and illicit trading of imported tobacco products through proper supervision, monitoring and regulation in order to protect the consuming/smoking public."
Action for Economic Research (AER) criticized the proposed measure, saying the circular is "masquerading as an illicit trade control measure that serves to protect the vested interests of the domestic tobacco industry."
AER said raising the fees on imported cigarettes will not curb the illicit tobacco trade.
"’The regulation seeks to address only illicit trade of imported cigarettes thus will fail to resolve the greater and more alarming concerns of domestic smuggling by local cigarette companies,’’ it said.
The proposed policy may also violate the Philippines’ commitment to international trade rules, specifically the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which prohibits the use of internal fees or taxes to favor the domestic industry.
AER said the selective imposition of license fees and extraneous procedures to authorize the sale and distribution of imported cigarettes will be discriminatory against foreign products.