WTO challenges pose no threat to Australia’s plain packaging law

| April 7, 2014

Indonesia won’t win its case against Australia’s standardized tobacco packaging laws at the World Trade Organization, according to a story in the Herald Sun quoting Tanya Plibersek, who is the deputy leader of the opposition Labor party and who served in the government that introduced standardized packaging.

Indonesia recently became the fifth country after Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Ukraine to take Australia to the WTO over its standardized packaging law.

Since Dec. 1, 2012, Australia has required that all tobacco products be sold in packaging designed on behalf of the previous Labor government to be as ugly as possible. Packs are hugely dominated by graphic health warnings, are otherwise a standard olive color, have no logos or other design features, and have brand and variant names in a standardized font and position.

Plibersek said she was confident the legislation would not be defeated at the WTO because Australia was not treating countries differently under trade rules. “[Indonesia’s] issue might be one of intellectual property, and we’ve had plenty of legal advice to say we’re on strong grounds here,” she was reported to have told Sky News on Sunday.

Plibersek said the tobacco policy was “one of the best things we did in government.” And she added that she thought Indonesia’s objection was a clear indication it was worried that standardized packaging was having an effect.

“I would be delighted if it means that Indonesian tobacco products are selling less … because it means Indonesians are getting sicker and dying less,” she told Sky News.

Category: Breaking News

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