Caribbean pressures US to resolve Antigua gambling dispute

online_gambling_512743887WASHINGTON D.C., United States, Friday May 23, 2014, CMC – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has once again appealed to the United States to honour the first ruling issued by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in favour of Antigua and Barbuda in relation to US legislation on online gambling, according to reports here.

CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) said the US risks undermining the credibility of the WTO’s dispute settlement process by failing to comply with the organization’s decision on its gambling laws, according to the Washington-based Tax-News.com.

It noted that the statement was issued during COTED’s recent meeting in Georgetown, Guyana.

Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda, said the Caribbean territory has lost more than US$1 billion in online gaming earnings annually as a result of the US laws.

In 2004, the WTO ruled that the US had violated its commitments as a WTO member, specifically the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), by enacting laws blocking foreign-based operators from offering cross-border gambling and betting services to US consumers.

CARICOM has appealed to the US to remove these barriers to overseas gambling operators.

Last year, Antigua and Barbuda was permitted by the WTO to monetize US$21 million worth of US intellectual property rights each year as compensation for the US measures.

The WTO decided that it would have been impossible to meaningfully compensate Antigua and Barbuda through trade sanctions.

But Tax-News.com said the United States has warned Antigua and Barbuda that enforcing the compensation ruling would have severely damaging consequences for the territory and its reputation.

In October last year, frustrated with lack of progress in talks with the US, the government of Antigua and Barbuda decided to launch discussions on “harvesting benefits” from the suspension of United States intellectual property rights as per the WTO ruling.

Following consideration of potential measures, Antigua and Barbuda has said it remains hopeful that the United States will return to the negotiating table with an alternative settlement that will not require Antigua and Barbuda to deploy the controversial IP measures agreed by the WTO.

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