Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

Ambassador Mothusi Palai (Botswana)
461. As previously stressed, both in this Council and in other fora, public health and tobacco control are topics of particular interest to Norway. 462. We would like to support the United Kingdom and Ireland in their efforts to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products. We appreciate the bold action that their governments are taking, paving the way for others, despite the various disputes initiated against Australia concerning these measures. 463. The Norwegian Government will itself initiate a consultation in March 2015 on whether standardised packaging of tobacco products should be introduced in Norway. It is Norway’s opinion that it is the right of each WTO Member to adopt measures in order to protect public health, as long as the measures chosen are consistent with WTO agreements. 464. It is clear that tobacco control policies and preventive measures – such as the standardised packaging – have the legitimate objective of protecting public health by reducing the use of tobacco products. Norway is a party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (the FCTC) and takes its obligations under this Convention very seriously. The obligations include, inter alia, introduction of measures to prevent initiation, to promote and support cessation, and to decrease the consumption of tobacco products. 465. Packaging and labelling of tobacco products is the subject of Article 11 of the FCTC, as just mentioned by Uruguay. The implementing guidelines to this provision – as well as of Article 13 regarding advertising – explicitly advise the Parties to the Convention to introduce plain packaging as a measure to achieve the objective of protecting public health. 466. It is Norway’s firm view that the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the relevant WTO agreements are mutually supportive, and that it is possible to implement measures intended to regulate the packaging of tobacco products in line with both sets of binding obligations. 467. Accordingly, Norway wants to signal support to the United Kingdom and Ireland regarding their right to introduce measures concerning standardised packaging - consistent with their WTO obligations - to fulfil their obligations under the FCTC in order to protect public health. Finally, in our view, ongoing DSB cases should not have any bearing on Members adopting measures in favour of public health.
The Council took note of the statements made.
12.1. The Chairman said that this item had been put on the agenda at the written request by the delegation of the Dominican Republic.

12.2. The representatives of the Dominican Republic; the European Union; Nicaragua; Honduras; Cuba; Indonesia; Nigeria; Zimbabwe; Australia; Uruguay; Canada; Norway; New Zealand; and the World Health Organization took the floor.

12.3. The Council took note of the statements made.

IP/C/M/78, IP/C/M/78/Add.1