Cuba is the latest entrant to the Tobacco Plain Packaging dispute with reports that it has sought consultations with Australia on the measure trickling in. Cuba had already reserved third party rights in a WTO dispute that was initiated by Ukraine against Australia. I have blogged about this here, here and here. NYT covered this news recently here.
Interesting facts about the Cuban challenge:
1. It is Cuba's first WTO dispute settlement case - either as a complainant or a respondent
2. Cuba, a developing economy, is challenging a developed economy (Australia) on the grounds that it's intellectual property rights have been allegedly infringed - the use of TRIPS by a developing country against a developed economy (The allegation is that it is normally the other way round)
3. With the Dominican Republic and Cuba joining the challenge, it seems to be a Caribbean battle against plain packaging of tobacco.
While on the one side pubic policy imperatives of public health drive the legislative moves of tobacco plain packaging, impact on local employment in developing economies and its impact on trade and jobs is forcing a legal challenge at the international forum.
Just another example to show that trade measures are not just about trade - it has a far reaching impact on employment and growth.