The ousting of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich could have an impact on the battle against standardized tobacco packaging, according to a Reuters story.
In March 2012, Ukraine launched a case at the World Trade Organization to try to overturn the Australian law, a step seen by anti-tobacco campaigners as a stalling tactic by a government with little interest in the issue.
Later that month, Konstantin Krasovsky, the head of Ukraine’s Tobacco Control Unit at the Ministry of Health’s Institute for Strategic Research was quoted in an Australian newspaper as saying that his country had no economic interest in the issue at all. No one in Ukraine would suffer from Australia’s standardized packaging, he added.
Now Ukraine’s change of government and its empty coffers put the challenge against Australia into question.
“I think in the circumstances that are now created in Ukraine of course it may be very difficult to find money to continue this dispute,” Reuters quoted a source at Ukraine’s diplomatic mission in Geneva, home of the WTO, as saying.
“The mission has not yet received new instructions from Kiev, but Ukraine’s future trade policy is likely to focus more on concrete steps to help its ailing economy than on ‘theoretical’ questions about tobacco.”
However, if other countries helped to fund Ukraine it might continue, since the issue might have a bearing on curbs on other products, such as alcohol, the source said.
In its request for the establishment of a WTO disputes panel, Ukraine said that Australia’s measures “erode the protection of intellectual property rights” and “impose severe restrictions on the use of validly registered trademarks.”
Ukraine is not the only country to be challenging Australia’s standardized tobacco packaging regulation.