Thursday October 24,2013 : ANTIGUA GOVERNMENT TO LEGISLATE SUSPENSION OF UNITED STATES I.P. RIGHTS
The next round of the U.S. vs Antigua WTO confrontation starts.
A press release from the Antigua government Wednesday reveals the next move by the Caribbean nation in its long-running World Trade Organisation fight over online gambling with the United States .
The island government has a “WTO Remedies Implementation Committee” working on its response to America's continuing intransigence, comprising a team of heavyweight specialists and experts in the diverse fields involved in leveraging Antigua's WTO-awarded retribution rights against the USA.
These include intellectual property rights, drafting of domestic intellectual property rights legalization, international trade policy and law, information technology and economics.
The Committee is chaired by Attorney General Hon. Justin Simon QC, and includes Ambassador Colin Murdoch and chief legal counsel in the WTO matter Mark Mendel.
The release reveals that the committee is working on a recommendation for the establishment by government of a statutory body to own, manage and operate "….the ultimate platform to be created for the monetisation or other exploitation of the suspension of American intellectual property rights authorised earlier this year by the WTO."
The necessary domestic legalization to implement the remedies is in the final stages of preparation for submission to Parliament, and an announcement regarding the opening of tenders for private sector participation in operating the platform is due shortly.
Antigua Prime Minister Hon. Baldwin Spencer used the statement to again note that “….in the face of the on-going failure of the United States to negotiate with Antigua and Barbuda a reasonable settlement of this dispute, the implementation of trade remedies awarded by the WTO is an important international responsibility.
"This will give Antigua and Barbuda a tangible benefit for our years of perseverance on this matter. Be assured that resolving the WTO Gaming case in a fair, reasonable and positive way is a top priority of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda”.
Over a decade ago, the United States breached commitments it made to WTO members under the General Agreement on Trade in Services by maintaining and enforcing laws to prevent foreign-based operators – including those based in Antigua and Barbuda — from offering internet gambling and betting services on a cross-border basis to consumers located in the United States.
In 2004 a WTO disputes panel ruled that these laws contravened the obligations of the United States under the GATS and directed the Americans to bring their laws into compliance with their GATS obligations. The initial ruling was upheld on appeals and despite occasional claims of compliance, the United States remains in violation of international law.
Sustained attempts by the Antiguan government to negotiate a reasonable and balanced settlement have not been effective.
Recourse to the suspension of concessions and other obligations in respect of US intellectual property rights was first awarded by the WTO in late 2007 and confirmed in January 2013. The suspension of these rights is a remedy conferred by the WTO agreements as a means to encourage members to comply with rulings against them.