IS A ANTIGUA VS. U.S. SETTLEMENT IN SIGHT ON WTO DISPUTE?
Islanders' legal adviser says a response is due next week
The 5 year World Trade Organisation dispute over online gambling between the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda and the United States may see a settlement offer from the Americans by Monday next week, says the islanders' legal counsel Mark Mendel.
Speaking to the Antigua Sun newspaper this week, Mendel said the US is scheduled to put forward a proposal for the settlement of both aspects of the trade dispute by next Monday – and the islanders are taking a wait and see approach despite winning a possible exemption from trade marks and copyright restrictions as compensation from the WTO worth $21 million a year.
“I am assuming that if they [the US trade Representative] are going to be good to their word, that they will have a proposal. It will be either a proposal or no proposal by the end of the month,” Mendel said.
The lawyer revealed that despite the controversial US$21 million in sanctions against the US awarded by a WTO Dispute Settlement Body arbitrator last December, the pending proposal is expected to address aspects of the trade dispute which dealt with the United States’ failure to comply with the WTO’s ruling on access for Internet gaming operators.
It is also expected to address the second aspect of the trade conflict, which stems from Antigua and Barbuda’s claim for compensation as the US seeks to withdraw from its commitment to provide market access to the sector under the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
“Any settlement that we would do would be comprehensive. It would take in everything," said Mendel. "These are (two separate issues) if we have to litigate them, but if we can settle something then it should all be settled in one go."
Earlier this year, Antigua and Barbuda filed a notice at the WTO requesting arbitration on the issue of the US declaration that it is withdrawing from its GATS commitment to allow trade access in respect of remote gaming.