(Cigarette manufacturing in the Dominican Republic)
The Dominican Republic is one of the complainants along with Ukraine and Honduras against the Tobacco Plain Packaging legislation of Australia. This piece in the Dominican Today about the dispute highlights the centrality of tobacco manufacturing in the Dominican Republic:
"While tobacco has been cultivated in the Dominican Republic for more than five centuries, the Dominican tobacco industry is a hundred years old. Tobacco export revenues represent roughly 8% of total exports in merchandise. The Dominican Republic is the largest net exporter of cigars in the world. Tobacco products represent 8.5% of fiscal revenue on merchandise taxation. There are around 5,500 tobacco producers, employing approximately 55,000 agricultural workers. Tobacco manufacturing employs another 63,000 people, of which 60 percent are women. Combined with the entire tobacco production chain, the industry thus generates around direct 118,000 jobs which supports approximately 350,000 people, according to information published by the Tobacco Institute of the Dominican Republic."
Thus, tobacco manufacturing and export is one of the main industries here as well as employment generator. It supports families and gives employment to a large number of women. Is this irrelevant in a dispute international trade law? If the Australian legislation, which is an exercise of its domestic policy space, is held to be compatible with WTO law (GATT, TBT and TRIPS), is the question of employment and job creation irrelevant to the issue. This is another classic case of the "loser" in globalization. An industry which was thriving can be possibly hurt by measures taken by other countries which may not be incompatible with international trade law. Those employed in these industries constitute a domestic constituency. How does the politics of domestic interests play out in international trade relations? While Dominican Republic's domestic will to engage in the trade is not impacted per se, the Australian measure does impact it in a negative way. Do considerations such as employment potential figure in the debate at all?