After formal objections of several countries over Australia’s requirement that tobacco products come in plain packaging, the World Trade Organization’s disputes settlement body will hear arguments from two of the largest cigar producing countries in the world, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, on Friday, April 25.

The two countries are joined in opposition by Honduras, as well as Indonesia and Ukraine, which are both producers of raw tobacco and exporters of cigarettes. A go-ahead to have the complaints of those three countries has already been given.

They maintain that the plain packaging requirement infringes on international trade rules and intellectual property rights, which in turn damage their brands. Australia’s government has rejected that argument, as has the country’s High Court.

The WTO’s panels are made up of independent trade and legal experts, and should they find a violation has occurred, have the power to authorize retaliatory trade measures by the wronged countries.

There is no timetable for the results of the hearing, and any decision can take years to implement after appeals and counter-appeals.



Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.