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WTO set to hear plain packaging dispute

The international lines have been drawn in the battle over Australia’s decision to force tobacco companies to present their products in plain packaging

On Friday the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body agreed to set up a panel to consider whether the Australian law breaches the trade body’s IP rules and violate the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.

The request for a panel was made by Ukraine, which told the Dispute Settlement Body that Australia’s measures “erode the protection of intellectual property rights” and “impose severe restrictions on the use of validly registered trademarks”.

But Australia found support from New Zealand, Norway and Uruguay. The South American country said that it could not remain silent in this fight against “the most serious pandemic confronting humanity”.

Ukraine has backing from a number of tobacco-producing countries: Zimbabwe, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Indonesia.

Members that asked to exercise third-party rights in the dispute were: Uruguay, New Zealand, Norway, Zimbabwe, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Zambia, Nicaragua, Indonesia, United States, Chinese Taipei, Turkey, Oman, Japan, the EU, Philippines, Ecuador, Korea, India, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore, Guatemala and Canada.

Read more about the timetable for the plain packaging dispute here.

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