US Misrepresentations Called Out By Antigua In Online Gambling Case At WTO 29/09/2017 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The tiny Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda today at the World Trade Organization gave an account of misrepresentations by the United States in its failure to fulfil a WTO dispute settlement panel’s finding that the US owes Antigua for US measures against online gambling that harmed the island’s economy. The United States now owes Antigua some $200 million in damages, and has offered only about $2 million. Now Antigua will formally request negotiations with the US trade office. At stake is Antigua’s authorisation by the WTO panel to recover its damages by failing to protect US intellectual property rights there, which it again reluctantly threatened to do if there is no resolution. Flag of Antigua and Barbuda “It would be very regrettable, Chair, if tiny Antigua and Barbuda were compelled to be the first country to have to suspend payment of US intellectual property rights despite its best efforts to reach a settlement with the US, its largest and richest neighbour to whom it has always been – and remains – a friend, “Antigua and Barbuda Amb. Sir Ronald Sanders told the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, driving the point home further by raising the recent economic ravaging of the islands by hurricanes and the need for funds for recovery. “In accordance with the award made to my country by the Arbitration Panel established by this Body, the trade losses to Antigua and Barbuda now stands at more than US$200 million,” he said, adding that the US offered about $2 million in November 2016, which the government rejected. “Of course, Chairman, Antigua and Barbuda has the option of implementing suspension of US intellectual property rights which is the award given by the Arbitral Bodies of this Organization,” Sanders said. “We have not done so because we have too high a regard for the US owners of intellectual property who have contributed much to the enjoyment and advancement of the world.” “We had hoped that the US government would respond to our restraint in ways that would settle this issue without causing any loss of income to US copyright holders,” he said. By comparison, Brazil in 2010 was awarded the right to suspend payment of US intellectual property rights in compensation for trade losses, and the US settled with Brazil by cash payments of over US$440 million and other ways in 2010 and 2014, Sanders said. Sanders went point-by-point in refuting US claims about the negotiations between the two sides, according to his statement, a portion of which is reprinted below: “At the last meeting of this body on 23rd November 2016, at which this matter was discussed, the delegation of the United States indicated that it had offered ‘a broad range of useful suggestions to settle this dispute in November 2013, only to have Antigua ignore the U.S. offer for a long period of time before finally indicating that it was not acceptable’. For the record, Chair, my delegation is compelled to advise that, in accordance with the award made to my country by the Arbitration Panel established by this Body, the trade losses to Antigua and Barbuda now stands at more than US$200 million. The U.S. offer that my Government found ‘not acceptable’ did not amount to $2 million. It should be no surprise, therefore, that my Government could not accept the offer. It cost my small country much more than $2 million simply to bring the trade dispute to the attention of this Body and to seek redress in conformity with established and binding rules. The U.S. delegation also told this body last November that ‘pursuant to Article XXI of the GATS’, the U.S. offered ‘a generous package of services concessions as compensation for removing internet gambling from the U.S. schedule’, adding that ‘Antigua is the only Member to block the United States from completing this process’. My delegation is further obliged to point out that my Government has not “blocked” the United States from removing its commitment from its schedule. We have acted to safeguard our rights.” [end of statement reprint] He later showed the inconsistency in US claims about morality: “The delegation of the United States also told this Body last year that ‘the regulation of cross-border gambling is a matter of public morality’. Consequently, my delegation is obliged to point out that in April 2005, the Appellate Body of this organization found that the U.S. could not invoke a “morals defense” to its violation of the GATS. What is more, while the U.S. has banned internet gaming from foreign providers, domestic gambling service providers continue to operate and thrive.” Slow Justice Sanders began his statement with a doleful remark about US recalcitrance and the slowness of WTO dispute settlement: “It continues to be most unfortunate that, despite 14 long years of deprivation, Antigua and Barbuda has to appear before this body, year after year, to report that the United States has not seen it possible to offer fair and equitable terms to my small country for the significant losses in trade revenues that it has suffered as a result of US violation of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).” Sanders also noted that over these years, Antigua and Barbuda has not acted to avoid purchasing US products and continues to run an enormous deficit with the US. US Repeats Response; Other Nations Back Antigua and Barbuda The US opened by expressing deep sympathy for the destruction from Hurricane Irma and said they are working together on the recovery efforts, according to a Geneva trade official. Then the US said it remains committed to resolving the dispute and has had numerous discussions on the issue in the past, and looks forward to future engagement and to considering the latest communication from Antigua and Barbuda. Jamaica, Barbados, the Dominican Republic and Cuba all expressed support for Antigua and Barbuda and called for a settlement. Amb. Sanders followed to thank countries for support in the hurricane recovery, but said the US statement was exactly the same as one it delivered to the Dispute Settlement Body 10 months ago. Sanders said as Antigua’s chief negotiator, he write to USTR to formally request a negotiating session on this issue and would report to the DSB on the talks. 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