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Australia wins tobacco case at WTO

10 Jun 2020. The World Trade Organization's (WTO) appeals body ruled on June 9 that Australia’s tight laws on tobacco packaging were justified, rejecting complaints by Honduras and the Dominican Republic that they are unfair restrictions on trade, Reuters reported.

In 2018, a WTO panel ruled on a case brought by Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Indonesia against Australia over its tobacco packaging regulations. They complained about the 2011 rules, which require that health warnings dominate the packaging, with the brand written in a standard font in a plain, unbranded section, the report said.

Other countries, including the UK, France, New Zealand, and Uruguay, have introduced similar rules. According to Reuters, the complainants argued that the Australian Tobacco Plain Packaging Act constituted an unjustified barrier to trade. But the panel found that the Australian measures were no more restrictive than necessary to achieve the public health goal of reducing smoking.

Honduras and the Dominican Republic appealed against the panel's findings. The Appellate Body said on June 9 that it had found no errors in the conclusions of the previous panel and that it rejected the complainants' request for Australia to change its packaging regulations, the report said.