The government of Antigua and Barbuda, still reeling from the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma, took another run Friday at achieving compensation from the United States regarding its dispute over online gambling.
Ambassador Sir Ronald Sanders addressed the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body, updating his government’s position on the dispute with the USA.
The island government has repeatedly secured dispute panel rulings in its favour over the past 14 years after complaining that US banning laws crippled the Antiguan online gambling regulatory business and conflicted with WTO principles and obligations.
The dispute panel rulings have granted Antigua and Barbuda up to $21 million a year in penalties against the United States, which now stand at cumulative total of $270 million, Ambassador Sanders claimed, noting that the US Trade Representative remains uncooperative, and that not a cent has been paid so far.
He also revealed that last year an extraordinary settlement offer on the dispute was made by the USA…a derisory $2 million!
The Ambassador reminded the WTO that Antigua and Barbuda has so far been reasonable in not using the WTO penalty authorisation to offer digital downloads of US intellectual property to the value of $21 million a year. This was due to a preference not to cause harm to individual American copyright holders, and because the islanders continue to desire a friendly relationship with the USA, he said.
The US Trade Representative responded with a statement that appeared to be stone-walling the issue, expressing sympathy for the natural disaster that has inflicted so much damage on Barbuda, and claiming that it is aiding in the recovery and is still committed to finding a resolution to the WTO dispute through engagement with the island government.