Sunday April 27 ,2014 : ANTIGUA IN DESPAIRING COMPLAINT TO WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION
It seems that in international trade disputes a "might is right" attitude prevails…
A fresh development took place Friday in the decade-long David and Goliath trade tussle between Antigua and Barbuda and the United States when the Caribbean island government read out a statement to the current sitting of the World Trade Organisation Dispute Settlement Body in Geneva.
The rather despairing statement expressed the islanders' frustration at the delaying tactics of the United States in the aftermath of WTO dispute panel rulings that have repeatedly supported the Antiguan case that US online gambling bans were unfair, discriminatory and in conflict with international trade agreements.
Despite being awarded $21 million in annual damages by the WTO some time ago, the United States has yet to pay the punitive award, and with interest and payments mounting the total is now in excess of $150 million, the statement notes.
Attempts by Antigua and Barbuda to stave off the unpleasant alternative of resorting to intellectual property and copyright measures already authorised by the WTO have also failed in a number of negotiations with the Americans over the years, the Antiguans note, suggesting that American intransigence illustrated an unhealthy attitude of "might is right" which should not be allowed to go unchecked and does little credit to the WTO.
Now that Antigua and Barbuda have been forced to move toward the last resort of applying the WTO copyright remedies, the United States was publicly portraying them as the villains of the piece, the statement complains, emphasising that the truth is that the Antigua and Barbuda government has throughout been remarkably patient and restrained.
What the Antiguans hope to achieve with the statement is not yet clear; is it a pre-emptive PR strike before the copyright measures are deployed, or is it intended to spur a last-minute intervention from the WTO?
When we went to press the US Trade Representative had not responded to the Antiguan accusations.