Antigua Discusses Settlement In US Gambling Dispute

The government of Antigua and Barbuda announced on August 14, 2013 that the World Trade Organization Remedies Implementation Committee (RIC), established by the Cabinet to pursue the trade remedies authorized by the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO, held its inaugural meeting on Friday August 09, 2013.

The Committee, which is chaired by Attorney-General Justin Simon, is charged with the responsibility of designing and implementing a regime of measures that will act on the authorization for intellectual property suspensions to be directed against US companies, which was awarded to Antigua by the WTO in January.

On the heels of this first meeting, Mr Simon stated the Committee had agreed upon a work plan and had apportioned different areas of responsibility to members according to the members’ expertise and interests.

He indicated that, because this would be the first time that this type of trade sanction is implemented, there is very little legal precedent to which the Committee may refer. Simon explained that the Committee would be examining issues of both domestic and international law in relation to intellectual property, and that certain members of staff at the Ministry of Legal Affairs would be closely involved with the exercise.

“The implementation of trade remedies awarded by the WTO is an important international responsibility,” stated Attorney-General Simon, “and we believe that it is important for us to get it right.”

The WTO case on gaming between the US and Antigua and Barbuda dates back to a ruling in the Caribbean territory’s favor in 2004. The WTO concurred with Antigua and Barbuda’s argument that United States’ legislation prohibiting the provision of overseas online gambling services contravened the nation’s commitments under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The case has moved to the stage of bilateral negotiations between both parties in order to reach a settlement.

After the January award authorizing trade sanctions in the area of intellectual property rights against US companies, Antigua and Barbuda held two rounds of negotiations with the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), both of which proved inconclusive. At issue is an appropriate method and volume of compensation for Antigua and Barbuda that can form the basis for a settlement.

The RIC will report to the Cabinet on its recommendations relating to the activation of the WTO authorization.