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Australian Current Affairs

Indonesia becomes fifth country in WTO fight over Australia’s tobacco law


In 2011, Australia passed a pioneering legislation requiring tobacco products to be sold in drab green boxes with the same typeface and graphic images of diseased smokers

In 2011, Australia passed a pioneering legislation requiring tobacco products to be sold in drab green boxes with the same typeface and graphic images of diseased smokers

The Australian Government has re-affirmed its commitment to tobacco plain packaging laws, in the face of a new challenge to the policy by Indonesia.

The World Trade Organisation says Indonesia has made a formal request for consultations with Australia on the issue, which under the Geneva-based organisation’s rules is the first step towards a full-blown trade dispute.

Indonesia is the fifth country to challenge Australia at the WTO over its pioneering legislation which aims to curb smoking by requiring tobacco products to be sold in drab green boxes with the same typeface and graphic images of diseased smokers.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Peter Dutton refused to speculate on WTO proceedings, but said the Government supports plain packaging as a way of reducing smoking rates.

The legislation, passed in 2011, is in force since last December.

The other cases have been brought by Ukraine, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

The latter trio, all cigar-producers, have cited concerns that the legislation covers all tobacco products, not just cigarettes.

The plaintiff countries maintain that Australia’s law breaches international trade rules and intellectual property rights to brands.

In a case brought by tobacco firms, Australia’s High Court rejected these arguments.

The Geneva-based WTO oversees its 159 member economies’ respect for the rules of global commerce.

WTO’s dispute settlement process, steered by independent trade and legal experts, can last for years.

In the event that the plaintiffs win their case, the WTO’s disputes settlement body will have the power to authorise retaliatory trade measures against Australia if the country fails to fall into line.

Source: Australia Network News (ABC) – Indonesia joins WTO fight over Australia tobacco law
 

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

One thought on “Indonesia becomes fifth country in WTO fight over Australia’s tobacco law

  1. toxic waste should be labeled as such.

    Posted by pdlyons | September 25, 2013, 00:09

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