Antigua and Barbuda Announces WTO Proceedings Against United States

| February 21, 2012

In June 2003, after the United States refused to engage in meaningful negotiations, Antigua asked the WTO to form a three-judge panel (“Dispute Panel”) to resolve the dispute.

March 2007, the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO ruled that the US had failed to comply with the 2005 ruling against prohibitions on Internet gambling. Later in the year, the WTO granted Antigua US$21 million in annual trade sanctions against the US as compensation for damages.

Since the DoJ’s reversal of fortunes, clarifying online gambling regulations in the US, there has been joy, upheaval, unrest and the push to make online gambling legal and regulated in states within the U.S.

So it should be no surprise that Antigua and Barbuda are now asking for compensation once again from the United States. The tiny nations are looking to make big waves announcing that they will again launch WTO proceedings against the United States and its treatment of offshore gambling operators.

On March 24, 2004, the WTO Dispute Panel issued a confidential ruling in favor of Antigua, finding that the US restrictions against online gambling violated international treaties., Antigua and Barbuda has been unable despite sustained efforts to either get the United States to comply with the WTO ruling or to negotiate any nature of reasonable compromise to settle the dispute,” the government said.

“Publicly, the United States had continued to use its supposed prohibition of all remote gaming as a basis for continued non-compliance with its international trade obligations.”

During a meeting with World Bank President Robert Zoellick at the 21st Intercessional Meeting of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government yesterday, Prime Minister Spencer requested that the World Bank intervene in the long running issue, saying that for a long time the country has been trying to get a negotiated resolution of the matter with the US.

He stressed that Antigua and Barbuda is not in any position to impose sanctions against the US.

“What we are seeking is a negotiated resolution to this matter and don’t know to what extent the World Bank can be of assistance in this regard but it is an important matter for Antigua and Barbuda”, Spencer said.

Harold Lovell, the territory’s Minister of Finance and the Economy had this to say,“Now that the entire basis for the United States’ objection to allowing our trade in remote gaming services has gone away. It is increasingly impossible to understand why the United States has not complied with this decision.”

“In the coming days,” Lovell announced, “the government will be consulting with appropriate officials and legal counsel to determine the best way forward for our people and industry. We played by the rules and earned a hard-fought and fair victory. It is high-time that the United States do what it routinely expects from its own trading partners – comply with WTO law and rulings.”


Category: Antigua News

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