U.S. pressured to resolve Antigua & Barbuda dispute

By Admin Wednesday May 28 2014 in Caribbean
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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has appealed to the United States to honour the first ruling issued by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in favour of Antigua & Barbuda in relation to U.S. legislation on online gambling.

 

CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) said the U.S. risks undermining the credibility of the WTO’s dispute settlement process by failing to comply with the organization’s decision on its gambling laws, according to the Washington-based Tax-News.com.

 

It noted that the statement was issued during COTED’s recent meeting in Georgetown, Guyana.

 

Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer said the Caribbean territory has lost more than US$1 billion in online gaming earnings annually as a result of the U.S. laws.

 

In 2004, the WTO ruled that the U.S. had violated its commitments as a WTO member, specifically the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), by enacting laws blocking foreign-based operators from offering cross-border gambling and betting services to U.S. consumers.

 

CARICOM has appealed to the U.S. to remove these barriers to overseas gambling operators.

 

Last year, Antigua & Barbuda was permitted by the WTO to monetize US$21 million worth of U.S. intellectual property rights each year as compensation for the U.S. measures.

 

The WTO decided that it would have been impossible to meaningfully compensate Antigua & Barbuda through trade sanctions.

 

However, the United States has warned Antigua & Barbuda that enforcing the compensation ruling would have severely damaging consequences for the territory and its reputation.

 

Last October, the government of Antigua & Barbuda initiated discussions on “harvesting benefits” from the suspension of United States intellectual property rights as per the WTO ruling.

 

Following consideration of potential measures, Antigua & Barbuda has said it remains hopeful that the United States will return to the negotiating table with an alternative settlement that will not require Antigua & Barbuda to deploy the controversial IP measures agreed by the WTO.

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