4/17/2012 : ANTIGUA PRESSURES UNITED STATES ON W.T.O. RULINGS (Update)
Island nation's prime minister meets with US trade official
Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Baldwin Spencer met last week with US Trade Representative Ron Kirk to discuss the islander's long-running internet gambling World Trade Organisation dispute with the Americans, reports the publication Caribarena this week.
The discussions with Kirk saw the prime minister express his disappointment that although the WTO case was first adjudicated in 2003, Antigua and Barbuda and the United States have yet to find a mutually agreeable solution to settle the matter.
The prime minister noted that Antigua and Barbuda had put forth several options to settle the case but said: “There has been no fairness in the proposals received from the United States to date.”
“Antigua and Barbuda’s Internet gaming sector has been decimated by the actions of the United States and we believe that we must be fairly compensated for those losses," Spencer added.
The prime minister encouraged the United States trade representative to accept Antigua and Barbuda’s recent proposal to take advantage of a “good offices” mediation effort by the WTO director general.
The US official acknowledged that a solution to the case had been elusive but assured the prime minister that “the United States remains committed to working with Antigua and Barbuda in finding a solution.”
He expressed the willingness of his office to review the latest proposal from Antigua and Barbuda and to hold further discussions with Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador in Washington, DC over the next few days so that a strategy for further action could be discussed.
The meeting follows some publicity in which Antigua legal representatives have pointed out that the recent change in the US Department of Justice's understanding of what constitutes online gambling in terms of the Wire Act – that it embraces only sports betting – may require a re-think on the part of US trade officials regarding WTO representations.