GENEVA May 6 Cuba has launched a legal
challenge to Australia's tobacco packaging laws at the World
Trade Organization, the Geneva-based trade body said in a
statement on Monday.
Cuba has never before launched WTO litigation. Its challenge
follows similar complaints about Australia's tough tobacco
packaging rules by Ukraine, Honduras and Dominican Republic.
By taking the first step in a dispute, Cuba has triggered a
60-day window for Australia to try to resolve the problem in
talks with Cuba. After that Cuba could ask the WTO to appoint a
panel of adjudicators to judge its complaint.
Australia's law came into force last December, banning
cigarette logos and requiring packets to be plain olive green
with graphic health warnings. It was seen as a precedent for
others considering a similar move, including the European Union,
India, Norway, South Korea, New Zealand and
To bring in the world's toughest rules on tobacco packaging,
Australia had to win a court fight against cigarette makers
British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco,
Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco.
It was not immediately clear why Cuba took more than a year
to follow Ukraine, which launched its complaint in March 2012.
The three existing complainants could press ahead with their
cases at any time in the future, but unless they do so their
challenges will remain inactive on the WTO's books.