Sunday March 1,2015 : ANTIGUA ISSUES ANOTHER WARNING TO THE UNITED STATES ON W.T.O. RULING.
Come to the party or we'll have to take drastic action, Antigua hints…yet again.
There's almost a sense of Groundhog Day ("a situation in which a series of unwelcome or tedious events appear to be recurring in exactly the same way") about the World Trade Organisation dispute between the United States and Antigua over online gambling, which has entered its 11th year in 2015….but here we go again.
On Friday, Antigua prime minister Gaston Browne resurrected the matter, telling a meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that his government's running battle with an uncooperative US Trade Representative has still not been resolved.
Very briefly, InfoPowa readers will recall that Antigua took the USA to the dispute panels of the WTO over American bans on online gambling that were discriminatory, unfair and not in compliance with WTO agreements, and this activity damaged the island's economy.
Long story short, after a series of WTO findings that favoured the islanders, the US has still not paid any compensation, which PM Browne now claims amounts to $168 million.
The WTO did offer another avenue of relief if the US continued to stonewall the issue, allowing Antigua to legally resort to international intellectual property violations up to a value of the $21 million per annum WTO penalty award.
The islanders have been reluctant to embark on such a controversial course, and have held numerous bilateral negotiations with the USTR in an attempt to amicably resolve the issue. All have failed to produce results – at least from an Antiguan perspective – as successive US Trade Representatives have apparently palmed the matter off.
When he took power mid-2014, Browne tied to persuade the Americans to come to the party by making what he claimed were important concessions, but judging by his comments at CARICOM last week his patience appears to be running out.
Accusing the USTR of a casual attitude to the WTO rulings, and willful neglect of the penalties and obligations placed on the US, Browne referred to the intellectual property option provided by the WTO findings, clearly hinting that his government is prepared to exercise these if necessary.
See what we mean about Groundhog Day?