The Dominican Republic applauded the recent preliminary ruling (WT/DS441/19) by a World Trade Organization Panel in the country's efforts to challenge Australia's plain packaging law for tobacco products. In its ruling, the Panel rejected all of Australia's procedural objections to the Dominican Republic's claims.
This dispute is being coordinated by Dr. Katrina Naut, the Dominican Republic's Director General of Foreign Trade in her capacity as a national expert, together with Luis Manuel Piantini, the country's ambassador to the WTO.
To this end, both the Ambassador and Dr. Naut have stated that the Dominican Republic has now taken the important step of filing its first written submission in the dispute, using comprehensive analysis of data from the marketplace. They have noted that, nearly two years since Australia's plain packaging measures took effect, the measures have failed to contribute to reducing smoking in Australia. Instead, the measures are threatening the position of the Dominican Republic's tobacco brands, and also the local industries that manufacture these products.
... In addition to the Dominican Republic, four other countries – Cuba, Honduras, Indonesia and Ukraine – are challenging Australia's plain packaging measures under the WTO's dispute settlement system. A record number of other countries (36) are taking part in the WTO disputes as third parties as Australia's measures threaten the way that branding has been used for hundreds of years to help consumers choose their preferred brands. The dispute could have an impact on the way that a wide range of consumer goods is sold in markets throughout the world.
Indeed it could. And that is why many industries will be crossing their fingers and hoping that the WTO supports free trade and intellectual property over the egos of a few Australian extremists.