As the day for United States President-elect Donald Trump to take office drifts closer, the Antigua & Barbuda government administration is ensuring that the country’s long standing dispute with Washington over online gaming is made a priority to be settled. This hope that they will be able to engage with this new administration led by the billionaire. Their plan involves pressing the Trump to pay up US$100 million to settle the dispute in which was 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 on Monday at opening of a new session of Parliament as he delivered the Throne Speech.
When Antigua and Barbuda was prohibited to operate offshore internet gambling sites by the US over a decade ago, the country brought the issue before the WTO which ruled that the US was at fault having violated international trade agreements. At the hearing, Antigua argued that the country suffered a loss of US$3.4 billion a year since then from no longer having the revenue and vital jobs. Though the WTO had agreed that the US was in violation of trade agreements, Antigua and Barbuda was only awarded US$21 million. They were also given the right to suspend certain concessions and obligations it has under international law to the United States in respect of intellectual property rights.
Several rounds of dialogue between the country has occurred since then, but Washington has failed to fully compensate the twin-island nation to this very day. On Monday, the Antigua government said 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.