In 2004, the World Trade Organization decided on a ruling that would agree online gambling operators licensed in Antigua had been treated unfairly by the United States as these operators had been blocked from providing services America. The United States has yet to abide by this ruling and the Prime Minister of Antigua made remarks earlier this week, stating that his patience is wearing thin over the refusal of the United States to negotiate a fair resolution on the matter.
Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua, gave an address to the nation and detailed his frustration with the United States Government. In the address, Browne stated that the action by the US, which is illegal, resulted in the country losing lucrative jobs as well as revenues to the National Treasury. At the same time, Browne stated that the United States was able to benefit by earning hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties plus fines from prosecuting the operators who were licensed in Antigua.
By 2007, three years after the WTO ruling, arbitrators of the WTO found that the economy of Antigua had experienced a $21m annual loss. This amount has now reached over $200m and Browne feels this sum can no longer be deprived from the country.
Since the United States did not do anything based on the rulings, the WTO gave Antigua the authorization to suspend intellectual property rights of US materials which meant that the country could sell copyrighted material such as music and movies without having to pay a royalty fee. Browne stated that his administration has not decided to go this route, selling such items, but would like to return to negotiating with the United States on the matter.
Browne pointed out that the country is not trying to gain anything more than what they lose and what Antigua is entitled to under the rules of the World Trade Organization. However, the most recent proposals by the US Trade Representative are ‘regrettably paltry’ and not the preferred option for the country.
Ambassador Ronald Sanders has been contacted by Browne and asked to renew negotiations with the Prime Minister stating that the country may have to consider implementing enforcement options. The decision to continue with the WTO ruling is not a hostile action according to Browne or a way to show a lack of friendship to the United States. The Prime Minister is hoping that both the United States and Antigua will be able to maintain a relationship as two countries who have been able to cooperate and collaborate throughout history.