Antigua Doubles Its Asking Price

27 August 2007

Antigua and Barbuda's (Antigua) total claims against the United States could surpass $7 billion, more than double the amount initially claimed, as the Internet gambling dispute continues.

Mark Mendel, who has represented Antigua in its years-long World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute with the United States over its restrictions on Internet gambling, told the Antigua Sun on Friday that the United States should expect billions more in sanctions for withdrawing its commitment to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

The U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) office announced in May that it would use a World Trade Organization (WTO) procedure to clarify its ban on I-gaming. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative John K. Veroneau said that the United States never intended to include gambling services in its GATS commitments and, thus, would withdraw them accordingly.

In June, Antigua said it would seek trade sanctions in the amount of $3.4 billion annually on the United States, primarily through the suspension of Antigua's copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs and patents obligations to the United States. An official claim has yet to be filed.

"The $3.4 billion is just what we’re entitled to by virtue of them not having complied with the decision," Mendel told the Sun.

A new claim will be filed against the United States for withdrawing gambling from its commitments to GATS, but the amount has not yet been announced, Mendel said.

"We haven't even told them what that claim will be yet. The only thing I told them is it’ll be at least as big as our other claim," he said.

Mendel said he met with representatives from the office of the USTR, at their request, at the beginning of the month, but that the meeting was inconclusive.

The European Union has also filed a claim against the United States in the amount of $15 billion for its withdrawal from its GATS commitments.

Antigua representatives are due to return to the WTO on Friday to present a justification of the initial $3.4 billion sanction against the United States.