Cuba Files WTO Dispute Against Australia Over Tobacco Plain-Packaging

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Cuba has joined several other World Trade Organization members in filing a dispute settlement case against Australia over its new rules requiring tobacco products to be sold in plain packages. The measure was instituted this year as a means of reducing use of tobacco products.

According to the WTO: “Cuba notified the WTO Secretariat, on 3 May 2013, of a request for consultations with Australia on the Australian Tobacco Plain Packaging Act of 2011 that regulates the appearance and form of retail packaging used in connection with sales of cigars, cigarettes and other tobacco products.”

Cuba argues that the measures are inconsistent with Australia’s obligations under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of 1994, according to sources.

More information will be available in the coming days, under document WT/DS458/1, WTO said in a statement.

Other countries that have challenged the Australian measure include: the Dominican Republic (DS441), Honduras (DS435), and Ukraine (DS434) (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 7 March 2013). There are also some countries – such as New Zealand and in Europe – that have expressed support for the Australian measure and which are considering similar measures.

A panel was established by request from Ukraine, but has not yet been composed to study the disputes, the sources said.

This marks the first time Cuba has been a complainant or as a respondent in the WTO Dispute Settlement System. But it has participated as a third party in 15 cases.

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