ST. JOHN’S: The Government of Antigua & Barbuda says it is encouraged by talks with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden about the gaming dispute between the two countries.
A government statement has quoted Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer as stating that the matter had been raised during Biden’s recent visit to Trinidad & Tobago for talks with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders.
The statement said that Biden and his senior advisor, Jacob Sullivan, met with Prime Minister Spencer and Antigua & Barbuda ambassadors, Colin Murdoch and Dame Deborah-Mae Lovell. Spencer raised the issue of the long-running World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute, urging Biden to use his influence in the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to “speedily bring the matter to a fair settlement”.
“I came away from the meeting feeling more encouraged than I have before,” said Spencer following private talks with Biden. “I think we were able to use the opportunity of this meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to bring our case more sharply into focus with the U.S. administration and to gain momentum for a final settlement.”
Spencer said he expects that the negotiations under way with the U.S. Trade Representative would be accelerated and that new and innovative proposals would be tabled in the search for a solution.
In 2007, a WTO panel of arbitrators ruled in favour of Antigua & Barbuda’s bid to impose sanctions on the U.S. after it barred financial institutions from processing online payments to betting companies outside American borders.
The ban effectively blocked countries such as Antigua & Barbuda from having access to the lucrative U.S. gaming market.
Antigua & Barbuda had requested US$3.4 billion in sanctions, but the panel awarded the country the right to ignore copyrights and mass produce software, music and movies in the amount of US$21 million annually.
Since then the two countries have made several attempts to reach a compromise on the matter. Failure to do so may prompt Antigua & Barbuda to return to the WTO in order to have the ruling enforced.