ST. JOHN’S: Representatives of Antigua & Barbuda expressed frustration with the U.S. over the lack of progress in resolving the on-going gaming dispute between the two nations at a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting last week.
“The delegation of Antigua & Barbuda has so far not seen substantial progress on compliance by the United States with the DSB’s (Dispute Settlement Body) decision,” said a statement released by the Caribbean nation. “Nor have they seen substantial progress by the United States in achieving a settlement with Antigua & Barbuda.”
Noting disappointment with the lack of progress and that the “negative consequences of this protracted impasse are very real for Antigua and Barbuda,” the country called the case a test for member states “seeking to determine whether the (WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding) can deliver practical and timely benefits for small and vulnerable countries”.
“The delegation of Antigua & Barbuda also appeals to the DSB to realize that justice delayed is justice denied, and urges closer attention to the systemic issues that surround this case that threaten the health of the system the WTO has for the resolution of trade disputes,” the statement read.
Last week, Ambassador Colin Murdoch said his country is actively pursuing a settlement with the U.S. He reported that a series of meetings were recently held in Washington, D.C., with trade representatives, senators and intellectual property stakeholders.
Murdoch said Antigua & Barbuda wants access to the U.S. online gambling market, but would be open to discussion about equally beneficial access to other areas.
The WTO ruled in Antigua & Barbuda’s favour following a complaint in 2003 that the U.S. violated the General Agreement in Trade and Services (GATS) by passing laws that made cross-border gambling and betting services illegal.
Antigua & Barbuda requested more than $3 billion in damages. However, the U.S. would only concede that its laws had resulted in $500,000 in damages.
The WTO ruling granted Antigua & Barbuda $21 million by way of the suspension of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
After years of negotiations, Antigua & Barbuda sought and received authorization from the DSB to apply the sanctions in January.