ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Wednesday January 11, 2017 – With just a week to go before United States President-elect Donald Trump takes office, Antigua and Barbuda has served notice that the settlement of its long standing dispute over online gaming with Washington will be issue number one as it prepares to engage the new administration.
The government says it will be pressing the Trump team to pay up US$100 million to settle the dispute won by Antigua and Barbuda before the World Trade Organization (WTO) 12 years ago.
“My government believes that the new administration that is about to take office will recognize the lawfulness and justness of our actions and will quickly settle the differences that have kept our negotiators apart,” announced Governor General Sir Rodney Williams as he delivered the Throne Speech at the opening of a new session of Parliament on Monday.
In 2005, the WTO ruled that the US had violated international trade agreements by prohibiting Antigua and Barbuda to operate offshore internet gambling sites.
Antigua argued that the US’ actions had caused the country to lose US$3.4 billion a year in much needed revenue and critical jobs. The WTO agreed that the US was in violation of trade agreements, but only awarded the country US$21 million. However, the trade body gave Antigua and Barbuda the right to suspend certain concessions and obligations it has under international law to the United States in respect of intellectual property rights.
Despite several rounds of negotiations, Washington has failed to compensate the twin-island nation.
The Antigua Government said on Monday that it would also pass legislation to take action as recommended by the WTO to recover the outstanding revenue.
“It is my government’s intention to proceed to Parliament to adopt legislation consistent with the WTO ruling allowing Antigua and Barbuda to nullify US copyright protections and to benefit from so doing,” the Governor General said.