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Indonesia joins challenge to Australia’s standardized packaging regulations

| September 24, 2013

Indonesia has made a formal request to the World Trade Organization for consultations on Australia’s imposition of standardized tobacco packaging regulations, according to stories by Agence France Presse and Reuters.

Such a request is said to be the first step toward a possible trade dispute.

Indonesia is the fifth country—behind Ukraine, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Cuba—to challenge Australia at the WTO.

Since Dec. 1, 2012, Australia has required that all tobacco products be sold in packaging designed on behalf of the previous government to be as ugly as possible. Packs are hugely dominated by graphic health warnings, are otherwise a standard olive color, have no logos or other design features, and have brand and variant names in a standardized font and position.

The plaintiff countries maintain that Australia’s law breaches international trade rules and intellectual property rights to brands—arguments rejected by Canberra, and by Australia’s High Court following a case brought by tobacco companies.

The WTO challenges are not expected to be resolved swiftly.

In the meantime, the regulations are in force.

Category: Breaking News

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