Jan 9, 2014

Why Australian cigarette packaging has Brussels reaching for smelling salts

The European Union and United States were on the verge of a landmark free-trade agreement, but an Australian court case has thrown a huge spanner in the works. ABC journalist James Panichi, on leave in Brussels, reports at Inside Story.

plain packaging

It isn’t often that Australia rates a mention in the European Union’s corridors of power. And that’s no bad thing: the long-running diplomatic stoushes with Canberra over agriculture and market access are seen here as water under the bridge. No news is definitely good news.

Yet for the past few months Australia has been the talk of the town. A little-known investment treaty between Hong Kong and Australia, signed in 1993, is being used as a cautionary tale of what lies in store for Europe as it negotiates its way towards what will be the biggest free-trade and investment agreement ever. And Europe’s executive is responding by saying it has learnt from Australia’s mistakes.

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3 thoughts on “Why Australian cigarette packaging has Brussels reaching for smelling salts

  1. Daly

    Great article with clear explanation of,what is at stake, thanks.
    Meanwhile ….. Andrew Robb is busy signing away Australia’s rights through the ISDS clauses in the Trans Pacific FTA currently being negotiated and in the Chinese Australia FTA. In the TPFTA the US sees the ISDS clause as non negotiatable and this government seems unconcerned about it in both agreements.
    Ask Canadians or Mexicans what they have gained and lost from their FTAs with the US in contrast to Abbott and Robb’s hasty rush into scrambling these eggs with our ally and largest trading partner.

  2. JohnB

    The link to the second half of the story failed.’s site appears to be down.

  3. CML

    For this government to sign the TPP when they know what is happening elsewhere with ISDSs, is bordering on treason.
    What gives Abbott and Robb the right to sign away our national sovereignty? There was no mention of anything to do with these matters before the recent federal election.
    Therefore, they have NO MANDATE to proceed with the TPP which includes ISDSs. I suppose it will favour their mates and those who donate to the LNP!

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