The US government attempted to interfere with Vietnamese legislation relating to infant formula advertising, a letter has revealed.
The letter, which was printed on Embassy of the United States of America Hanoi-headed paper, urged the country’s National Assembly to reconsider the extension of a draft law, which prohibited the advertisement of milk formula products.
The 13 June 2012-dated letter was addressed to Nguyen Sinh Hung, the chairman of the Vietnamese National Assembly.
The National Assembly was set to vote to increase the scope of the ban from milk formula products aimed at infants aged zero to 12 months to formula products intended to replace breast milk for children up to the age of 24 months.
In the letter, which was signed the US Embassy’s Claire A. Pierangelo, claimed that several US firms had contact the US Embassy voicing concerns over the proposed advertising ban.
“Several US companies have contacted the US Embassy regarding their serious concerns about this proposed prohibition on advertising of formula milk products, which could have a significant negative impact of their business in Vietnam.”
A number of US infant formula manufacturers including Abbott Nutrition, Mead Johnson and Pfizer-owned Wyeth have a presence in Vietnam.
“We share their concerns,” the US Embassy letter added.
“In particular, we are concerned that the National Assembly has not had the opportunity to consult with affected stakeholders – including the public, companies, and the Government – about the potential impact of this proposal.”
Vietnamese consumers “seeking comprehensive information about the nutritional value of the formula milk products” may be worst affected by the law change, the letter added.
The US Embassy also claimed that it had not seen a compelling scientific, legal, or economical argument for extending the advertising ban on milk formula for infants.
“We ask that the National Assembly fully consider the implications of any changes to the draft Law on Advertisement and engage in a full discussion with affected stakeholders before making any such changes.”
National Assembly vote
Despite the best efforts of the Hanoi-based US Embassy’s, the National Assembly voted to increase the scope of the milk formula advertising ban in the draft Law on Advertisement on 21 June 2012.
The draft law amendment also saw a ban implemented on the advertisement of cigarettes, alcoholic beverages about 15% proof and baby formula products intended to replace breast milk for children up to the age of 24 months.