Economy February 6, 2015 | 12:13 pm

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Official hails Swiss stance on tobacco plain-packaging row

Santo Domingo.- The head of the Industry and Commerce Ministry’s Foreign Trade Office (DICOEX) on Thursday hailed the Swiss government’s recent decision to await the outcome of the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute prior to considering the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products in its market.

Katrina Naut said the Dominican Republic has consulted three experts over the WTO dispute, to decide on the compatibility of Australia’s plain packaging law passed in December 2012, which bans the display of logos, design and graphics in cigarettes and cigars, aimed cutting back on smoking.

Along with the Dominican Republic WTO members Cuba, Honduras, Indonesia and Ukraine also challenge the plain packaging law, citing a lack of proof that effective in reducing smoking, and destroys those countries’ competitive edge.

"We feel that the Swiss authorities’ decision to await the WTO report on the dispute is correct, especially considering plain packaging’ significant adverse impact on competition in the market and free trade," Naut said in an emailed statement.

The official stressed the economic damage of removing brand names by plain packaging legislation on countries like the Dominican Republic, preventing tobacco producers, both locally and globally, from differentiation its high quality from its competitors, in violation of global trading system rules,” Naut said.

She said when producers can no longer use brands and geographical indications to showcase their products’ quality, smokers are drawn to cheaper licit and illicit products, but don’t smoke less. “Australia market consumption statistics support this prediction.”

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