World Trade Organization is an international organization that deals with rules of trade between nations with the aim of helping producers of both goods and services conduct their business with ease. World Trade Organization stands to be the most powerful legislative and judicial body in the world eclipsing even national governments. Nations that are members of this organization negotiate and sign agreements that their governments ratify to social and environmental objectives (DAVEY 2012, p 32). The documents act as legal grounds on which inter-nation commerce operates and binding the member states into keeping their agreed limits on trade policies as per the agreement. No country or nation is self-sufficient, and, therefore, they need each other’s support and link as well, and this makes the world trade organization relevant to the world nations as a whole. The group provides a platform for member governments to sort out their business problems and misunderstandings with each other since the first step to solving any dispute is talking. World Trade Organization was born through negotiations and, therefore, all its activities, and functions have their origin in the need for more negotiations (NARLIKAR 2012, p 41). Liberation of trade around the world is the organization’s achievement. A large number of WTO works find its basis and ground from the 1986-94 negotiations with the name Uruguay Round as well as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). At the moment, WTO is hosting new negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda whose launching was in 2001 and expecting a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. Though World Trade Organization advocates for free trade among nations by advising its members to lower trade barriers in their states, it advocates for trade barriers for safety purposes where necessary. For instance to protect consumers or prevent the spread of a contagious disease by removing trade goods that may pose any risks to consumers while at the same time ensure that trade flow as freely as possible. With different visions and missions from various countries, conflicting interest is expected thus at times ending in disputes that need proper resolution for the organization to function fully (UNITED 2009, p 46).
World Trade Organization has the responsibility of providing a means of resolving conflicts between its members. The rule of law by the body ensures the trading system is secure and predictable as well thus creating the need for timetables as well as clearly defined rules. The organization depends on rulings from the panel that may later get the endorsement from its full members with their primary aim being to settle the dispute rather than pass judgment. Most differences came up as a result of a country not respecting an agreement and failing to live up to their obligations then a third group of countries declares their interest in the case for consultation. Earlier the old GATT had a procedure for settling disputes that had no fixed timetable thus dragging cases for a long time and even leading to blockage of others with no conclusive judgment that results in tension between conflicting parties (DAVEY 2012, p 46). On the other hand, the Uruguay Round agreement made the process more structured stating its stages clearly. As well it fixes the a length of time a resolution can take with the country losing having the choice of blocking rulings adoption as well as filing for an appeal (UNITED 2009, p 46).. The process has close similarities with that of a court but the governments in conflict can settle their problem within themselves (NARLIKAR 2012, p 54). The ties between Australia and Ukraine seem to grow significantly with time to an extent that Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk openly critics his country’s move to file the complaint against Australia at WTO at a cabinet opening. Yatseniuk openly expresses his doubt on the importance and need for the trade dispute his country has with Australia and also claims the case was at the request of the American Chamber of Commerce at My Essay Services.
According to several studies, tobacco smoking stands to be the cause of death as well as diseases such as cancer and heart-related diseases in Australia that claim the lives of close to 15 500 people every year. For this reason, the Cancer Council Australia made reduction of smoking-related deaths and illnesses their priority with the Tobacco Issue Committee developing some position statements with the aim of assisting tobacco addicts beat their smoking urge. The danger to which the passive smokers that include, children are in is more worrying to the Australians as well. Therefore, the Australian Council of Smoking and Health consider stopping the smoking habit as having immediate as well as long-term benefits to the citizens (DAVEY 2012, p 57). With the acceptance of no available, easy fix for a zero smoking country, Australia settles on policy for the reduction of new users. Unluckily enforcing these regulations on tobacco put the Australian relationship with the other members of the World Trade Organization in an awkward position thus resulting in several complaints against Australia at the World Trade Organization from different member nations. The countries include Honduras, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Indonesia. Australia comes as the first country in the world to demand plain packaging of tobacco and therefore bound to face problems with other World Trade Organization members who produce and export tobacco as a cash crop.
FACTS ON THE CASE
Ukraine, who is a member of the World Trade Organization, filed a complaint on 13 March 2012, over plain packaging Act in Australia. Ukraine believes the policy was working against the international rules on trademark and fair trade protection. The Australian law was imposing trademark restrictions on tobacco products. These laws went into a heated discussion between the WTO members over the laws conformity with the trade rules in place. The two key measures that Ukraine was challenging include; Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 as well as implementation and Trade Marks Amendment Act 2011. These laws go contrary to several Articles including 1, 1.1, and 2.1, of the TRIPS Agreement (REIS 2009, p39). Other countries such as Guatemala, Norway, and Uruguay also put the request to join the case consultation on 22 March 2012 with more country members showing similar interest later. Given that the Australian policies were affecting several countries at the same time the requests for consultations was not a surprise at all given that other similar disputes were ongoing at the World Trade Organization. On 24 March the same year, the Director-General got a request from Ukraine for the composition of a panel that came to pass on 5 May the same year. Those in the panel include Mr. Alexander Erwin (chairperson), Mr. Francois Dessemontet, and Ms. Billie Miller. Other countries are also placing disputes in a similar manner. Therefore, the World Trade Organization listens to all the cases jointly.
Australia on their part defends their action as important for public health purposes. Craig Emerson, the Australian Trade Minister, clearly states their packaging move was not an anti-trade but rather anti-cancer with the aim of reducing workplace as well as health expenses that are ballooning. In defense, Australian submission to the WTO Committee on TBT, states that its restrictive measure on advertising and promotion of tobacco products. Also, the plain packaging policy is inconsistency with the responsibility under World Health Organization Frame Work Convention on Tobacco control. On the other hand, the TBT allows for trade restriction if its aim is protecting the public health a fact that Ukraine finds to be restrictive than necessary(UNITED 2009, p 46). The panel on its part considers unlawful consumer information hampering trade in an unnecessarily as well as illegal way thus disadvantaging Australia. Ukraine and Australia have the choice of reaching solutions mutually without the World Trade Organization’s interference. And if this fails Ukraine being the complainant has the right to the panel formed to hear and decide on the case formally.
On 9 June 2015, Ukraine authorities made known their intention of withdrawing their complaint against Australia on the implementation of Tobacco plain packaging at the World Trade Organization. Dr. Vera Luiza, the head of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), notes that the move by Ukraine is beneficial to their status as a party to WHO FCTC. And as well the country’s ongoing commitment to tobacco control and public health membership contributions that may go to waste. Aivaras Abromavicius, The Ukrainian Minister of Economic Development and Trade, states that the dispute had no economic logic. Therefore, it would only affect their country negatively since Ukraine has limited resources they only plan to use in direct trade interesting their country. It is important to note that the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organization (AFUO), in mid-2014 made the request for Ukraine to drop the complaints against Australia. A lawsuit of Ukraine against Australia had consideration at the WHO since the two parties did not come to a conclusion during their earlier negotiations, but now they hope to find a mutual agreement to solve their problem. Ukraine’s suspension can take close to 12 months after which it will lose the right to return to the panel. In case Australia wins these legal battle, supporters as well opponents fear enforcement of similar regulation on alcohol as well as junk food. The WTO expects to give a ruling on this matter possibly by the first half of next year (REIS 2009, p 29). Ukraine has since benefited from the Australian government support through humanitarian aid as well as scholarships. In the same spirit, the Ukrainian Armed Forces go to Australia for a program with the aim of improving the Ukrainian defense force capacity as well as strength. In the long run, both Australia and Ukraine got to benefit from their struggle and later strengthening their ties as well.
The Australian plain tobacco packaging has seen a reduction in the number of individuals with the urge to smoking both in the youths as well as in adults. Research also attributes the number of those planning to quit as they find the packages less attractive. Plain box, on the other hand, denies the producers as well as retailers of tobacco products their most valuable marketing tool for acquiring new consumers. Apparently the government does not intend to restrict the market access but to protect the lives and health of all the citizens when introducing this regulation. The tobacco-related market is the most affected by the plan package law. The British American Tobacco has gone to court challenging the plain packaging law with demands for compensation of loses its products are facing as well denial of trademark rights. The British America Tobacco has its profits steadily reducing since the introduction of the plain package law. The primary aim of any business venture is to make the profit and, for this reason, any force that threatens to lower their profits is bound to receive harsh reaction. The everyday package law is no exception, and thus the step to fail suit against the government of Australia is no surprise. In reality, it is impossible for the British American Tobacco to stand no chance of winning this battle but still it was worth trying to save their crumbling market. The company, therefore, has the responsibility of proving to the courts how a lack of color will affect identification of their products in the market before their claims get any consideration.