[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has called on the United States to honour a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute with Antigua and Barbuda with respect to Internet gaming.
A statement issued at the end of the COTED meeting here on Saturday said the Council had noted that the US had so far failed to become compliant with the decision of the tribunal and had also failed to reach a settlement with Antigua and Barbuda. The meeting urged the US “to make additional efforts to reach a fair settlement.
“The Council acknowledged that the case was long outstanding and had the potential to undermine the credibility of the dispute settlement mechanism of the multilateral trading system,” the statement said.
Earlier this year, the Baldwin Spencer government announced that it was adopting a new strategy in a bid to end the long standing dispute with Washington.
The government said it would make changes to the copyright legislation after indicating that the once flourishing gaming industry has been ruined by US laws prohibiting and criminalising the provisions of remote gaming services from Antigua and Barbuda to consumers in the United States.
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.
The government has since appointed a WTO Gaming Negotiation Team chaired by Attorney General Justin Simon QC.
The committee has the specific objective of designing and implementing an instrument for exercising measures that will act on the authorization for intellectual property right suspensions against US companies authorized by the WTO DSB. [CMC]