WTO: Antigua Has New Idea For Gambling Case; Cuba Rails Against US Trademark

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In a longstanding World Trade Organization dispute about measures affecting the cross-border supply of gambling and betting services, Antigua and Barbuda has made a new proposal to the United States on a way to solve the issue of the US not complying with a WTO ruling it lost. And in a separate matter at the same WTO meeting last week, Cuba referred to the US failure to change a law barring a rum trademark in the context of railing against US policy of “economic suffocation” of the island nation.

Antiguan Gambling

During the 29 August meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, said in a statement that their “newly elected government has, after considerable deliberation and with a view towards a prompt and final resolution of this long-standing matter formulated yet another comprehensive and realistic proposal.”

The proposal, according to the statement, has been formally presented to the United States government, and “represents a significant concession to the United States from earlier proposals.” No further details on the Antigua proposal were available. The Antigua government did not respond to requests for more information by deadline.

The proposal, the statement says, “represents but the slightest fraction of the harm done to the Antiguan economy by the failure of the United States to observe its obligations under the GATS,” and to comply with the 10-year-old decision of the DSB.

Antigua and Barbuda won the dispute against the US blocking its gambling services and was awarded with the right to not protect US$21 million worth per year, a ruling that they never applied.

The dispute dates back to 2003.

Cuban Rum

In the even longer-standing case of US non-compliance with a WTO dispute body ruling, Cuba at the meeting put the failure to comply in the context of decades of US embargo against trade with Cuba.

Cuba’s intervention detailed the circumstances of the US policy blocking Cuba’s defence in US court of the Havana Club rum trademark, which only in the US is held by Bacardi and elsewhere in the world is held by a Pernod-Ricard and Cuban joint venture. The policy, Section 211, was slipped into a 1998 budget bill in US Congress passed late at night, and came into force in 1999.

“Laws that constitute the economic, commercial and financial blockade that has been maintained against Cuba for over 50 years are the illegal base for their violations before the DSB [Dispute Settlement Body],” Cuba said in its intervention.

It said the US blockade and illegal measures such as the trademark action are “true violations of international law,” rejected by the UN General Assembly. Calling it a “retrograde policy of economic suffocation,” Cuba cited numerous acts and international treaties under which the US blockade is a severe violation.

Cuba also said the failure to resolve such issues in the DSB undermine the work and credibility of the WTO dispute settlement system.


Image Credits: Alan Cleaver

Catherine Saez may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

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  1. KnightSoil says

    Antigua only won 1/2 of 1% of their ridiculously inflated damage claim, and now they want to negotiate trade sanctions into a cash settlement (to be put in their swiss accounts)?


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