[Ip-health] Reuters: No WTO judgment in tobacco packaging dispute until at least 2016

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Sat Oct 18 23:36:10 PDT 2014

No WTO judgment in tobacco packaging dispute until at least 2016

GENEVA Tue Oct 14, 2014 7:02am EDT

(Reuters) - The World Trade Organization will not rule on a legal challenge
to Australia's landmark tobacco
laws until at least the first half of 2016, the panel of judges said on
Tuesday, a delay that could slow anti-tobacco laws elsewhere.

Australia's "plain packaging" rules ban colorful logos and are seen by
public health advocates as heralding a new era of tobacco
But Cuba <http://www.reuters.com/places/cuba?lc=int_mb_1001>, Indonesia
<http://www.reuters.com/places/indonesia?lc=int_mb_1001>, Honduras,
Dominican Republic and Ukraine
<http://www.reuters.com/places/ukraine?lc=int_mb_1001> say the laws are an
illegal restriction on trade.

Both supporters and opponents say such restrictions could spread to alcohol
and some foods with high sugar or fat content, making the WTO case far more
wide-reaching than Australia's own tobacco policies.

Many other countries around the world are waiting for the outcome of the
case before deciding to adopt similar restrictions on tobacco packaging,
although some have lost patience with repeated delays at the WTO and begun

Normally a panel should rule on a trade dispute within six months from the
date that it starts work, but a bottleneck of increasingly demanding and
large trade disputes has caused many cases to get delayed.

Even if the panel's decision is announced in the first half of 2016, the
result can be appealed by either side, meaning the final outcome may not be
known until late 2016 or 2017.

(Reporting by Tom Miles
editing by John Stonestreet)

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