In the battle over Australia’s plain packaging requirement for tobacco products, the Dominican Republic has scored a small victory, as the World Trade Organization’s panel examining the arguments issued a preliminary ruling in its favor on Thursday.
The core issue in the dispute is that Australia’s rule is damaging to the Dominican Republic’s tobacco industry by not allowing them to display the logos and artwork of products on packaging. In the preliminary ruling dated Oct. 22, 2014, much of the arguments centered around semantics and protocol for requesting such a panel. The panel found that the Dominican Republic’s request to convene a panel on the matter was consistent with WTO guidelines and that the country was focused “solely on Australia’s plain packaging requirements applicable to retail packaging of tobacco products or to the tobacco products themselves.”
The preliminary ruling will become an integral part of the Panel’s report, which is expected to be issued no earlier than the middle of 2016.
The Dominican Republic is joined by Cuba, Honduras, Indonesia and Ukraine in objecting to Australia’s plain packaging law.