US accuses Antigua of acting in bad faith in gambling dispute

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Thursday January 10, 2013 – The United States has accused Antigua and Barbuda of contemplating “government-authorized piracy” and “intellectual property theft” as the Caribbean nation tries to force the US to pay it the US$21 million annual compensation it is owed since its 2004 victory before the World Trade Organisation (WTO). 

Eight years ago, the WTO agreed that US laws prohibiting the provision of online gambling services into the United States market was in violation of the US’s international treaty obligations after Antigua brought the matter before the WTO since the implementation of the US laws criminalizing remote gambling services offered to American consumers had crippled the territory’s remote gambling industry.

However, up to now Antigua and Barbuda has been unable to achieve meaningful compensation and the island government has made it publicly known that it might allow merchandise copyrighted in the United States to be sold in the twin-island state without having to pay for rights usage.

However, this move has triggered a strong response from the United States and thinly veiled threat of ceasing any plans to deliver any compensation to Antigua. 

In a statement delivered to the WTO’s dispute settlement body, the United States said: “Antigua’s sentiments only serve to postpone the final resolution of this matter, to the detriment of its Antigua’s own interests.”

The US also accused Antigua of flip-flopping on the issue of compensation.

“Based on specific requests made by Antigua, The United States has offered real and substantial benefits that would make important contributions to the future development of the Antiguan economy. At times, Antigua has been on the verge of accepting these benefits and putting this dispute behind us. At other times, however, as appears to be the case today, Antigua reverts to its unrealistic demands that the United States forego the modification of the US GATS schedule,” stated the US.

The US also came out strongly against Antigua’s intention to take the additional step of seeking authorization to suspend concessions with respect to intellectual property rights.”

“The United States would view such a step as fundamentally at odds with the current status of this matter. It is Antigua’s actions in refusing to engage in the Article XXI process, and not the actions of the United States, that are preventing the final resolution of this matter.”

“In these circumstances, Antigua has no justification for taking any retaliatory actions against the United States. Moreover, if Antigua actually proceeds with a plan for its government to authorize the theft of intellectual property, it would only serve to hurt Antigua’s own interests. Government-authorized piracy would undermine chances for a settlement that would provide real benefits to Antigua. It also would serve as a major impediment to foreign investment in the Antiguan economy, particularly in high-tech industries,” it warned. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)