The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

FCA member applauds Ukraine decision to drop WTO challenge

The Ukraine Government’s decision to suspend the country’s case before the World Trade Organization against Australia's plain packaging law marks a milestone, says the Ukrainian Smoke Free Coalition.

“For us this means overcoming the corruption of the international tobacco lobby in Ukraine,” said Andriy Skipalskyi, who is also Chairman of Advocacy Center Life, a non-profit, anti-tobacco advocacy group.

Ukraine was the first of five countries to challenge Australia’s law, which forces tobacco companies to remove all branding from product packages. The firms say the rules infringe their trademarks, and the WTO complainants say they constitute illegal barriers to trade.

BAT paid challenge

British American Tobacco has previously said it was helping meet Ukraine's legal costs in the WTO case against Australia. There is no indication that litigation launched by Honduras, Cuba, Indonesia and Dominican Republic will be affected by Ukraine’s decision.

The Center had been advocating since 2012 for the case to be dropped. Activists said Ukraine’s challenge lacked an economic rationale, was not transparent and harmed the country’s international reputation. The campaign reached a turning point from March to May this year when media investigations and several high-profile meetings pushed the government to make the decision on 4 June.

“On behalf of the Ukrainian Smoke Free Coalition, I would like to recognise that Ukrainian authorities, particularly Economic Minister Aivaras Abromavicius and his team, have managed to take the case to the highest levels, conduct an investigation, and make a landmark decision in dropping the case,” added Andriy.

Read more:

ArticleBig Tobacco expands global attacks on public health

In-depth information on the WTO challenge from the McCabe Centre

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