Antigua and Barbuda Wednesday described as “disappointing” the latest round of talks with representatives from the Office of the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) in a bid to resolve their long standing internet gaming dispute.
“There is no escaping the fact that this was a disappointing meeting, and that the USTR proposals fell far short of what is required to settle this matter,” said Ambassador Colin Murdoch, who headed the local delegation to the talks in Washington.
“In failing to address key proposals that we have made, the USTR has put US intellectual property rights holders at risk,” he added.
Antigua and Barbuda has criticised the United States since 1998 of breaching its commitments to members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) by enacting laws that prevented foreign-based operators from offering gambling and betting services to its citizens.
In 2005, the WTO ruled that Washington had violated international trade agreements by prohibiting operation of offshore Internet gambling sites. Antigua claimed that it lost US$3.4 billion a year due to the US action, but the WTO awarded the island US$21 million.
But in its final ruling, the Geneva-based WTO has allowed Antigua and Barbuda to suspend certain concessions and obligations it has under international law to the United States in respect of intellectual property rights.
Murdoch further noted that even if all possible elements in the US proposal, Washington’s first offer of settlement over the decade-long span of the dispute, were aggregated, the value of the offer would be considerably less than the US$21 million in annual damages awarded by a WTO panel back in 2007.