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Indonesian company opposes Vietnamese tobacco firm’s claim to its products

Thursday, March 10, 2016, 17:25 GMT+7

An Indonesian tobacco firm has raised objection to a Vietnamese cigarette producer registering two of its brands.

Sumatra Tobacco Trading Company (STTC), based in North Sumatra, has objected to Vietnam National Tobacco Corporation (Vinataba) registering two of its products, JET and HERO, the company said in its document sent to the Vietnam Lawyers Association (VLA).

Vinataba should halt registry of the brands to prevent litigation in the international court, the VLA said.

On Monday, Vinataba’s leader claimed in a proposal to the national office of intellectual property that the two brands are contraband goods in Vietnam, thus requesting to register the aforementioned, the STTC said in its document.

The Vietnamese company has also said it will produce the two types of cigarettes or their equivalents.

The Indonesian firm stated that the products are officially retailed by their partners in Vietnam, namely Southern Airports Services Joint Stock Company (SASCO).

The two brands are not the cause of tobacco smuggling in Vietnam, the Indonesian company asserted.  

JET and HERO products account for more than 90 percent of the contraband cigarette market in Vietnam, according to the Vietnam Tobacco Association.

Both of the products breach a number of regulations on tobacco management stipulated by Vietnamese law, the association said.

JET and HERO brands are sold without the picture-based health warning, place and year of manufacture, and expiration date.

The toxicity of the two products is also far higher than the rates allowed by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health.

It is estimated that smoking will cause sickness or early death in 2.3 million Vietnamese even if they only smoke a cigarette a day.

In 2014, news website VietnamNet revealed that the brands were being smuggled into Vietnam from Cambodia and posted a photo of arrested smugglers with HERO and JET cigarette packs still strapped to their bodies.

Such cigarette trafficking occurs at Cambodia-Vietnam border gates such as Svayrieng in Long An Province, Bavet and Moc Bai in Tay Ninh Province, and Ta Mau Kirivong and Xa Xia in Tay Ninh, the domestic news wire said.

In 2013, 21.9 billion untaxed and illegal cigarettes were smuggled into Vietnam, said a report by Oxford Economics and the International Tax and Investment Center in September 2014.

An October 22, 2013 report by the Vietnam Tobacco Association stated that the country consumed a total of 4.174 billion packs of cigarettes in 2012.

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