UPDATE 1-Ukraine drops WTO action against Australian tobacco-packaging laws
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By Tom Miles
GENEVA, June 3 (Reuters) - Ukraine has suspended a case it was pursuing through the World Trade Organization aimed at overturning Australia's strict tobacco packaging laws, a WTO panel of adjudicators said in a statement published on Wednesday.
Ukraine asked the panel to suspend the proceedings on May 28 and said it will try to find a mutually agreed solution with Australia, the statement said.
Honduras, Cuba, Indonesia and Dominican Republic are also challenging Australia's tobacco packaging laws at the WTO. There was no indication that their litigation would be affected.
A growing number of countries have said they plan to follow Australia's 2010 step, banning flashy logos and distinctive-coloured cigarette packaging in favour of drab olive packets that look more like military or prison issue, with brand names printed in small standardised fonts.
Tobacco firms say the rules infringe their trademarks, and the WTO complainants say they constitute illegal barriers to trade.
Public health advocates say standardised packaging heralds a new era of tobacco control.
Both supporters and opponents say the legal battle could have consequences beyond tobacco because similar rules could be imposed on food judged unhealthy and alcohol if Australia wins. Continuación...