Antigua 'In Good Shape' as WTO Ruling Approaches

6 November 2007

Mark Mendel, lead counsel for Antigua and Barbuda (Antigua) in its dispute with the United States before the World Trade Organization (WTO), is confident that the impending ruling from the WTO arbitration panel will be in twin-island nation's favor.

Since the dispute began in 2003, the WTO has not ruled once in the United States' favor, and this latest ruling, scheduled for Nov. 30, is expected to be no different as things have been going very well for Antigua, Mendel told the Antigua Sun.

"We are in very good shape," he said. "This arbitration is proceeding nicely and we've done a very good job."

The Nov. 30 ruling will be the latest -- and perhaps weightiest -- of the four-year dispute, though the U.S. government has repeatedly ignored the WTO's edicts ordering it to bring its laws into compliance with international trade rules.

In June, Antigua filed a $3.4 billion compensation claim against the United States, and Mendel said he expects the approaching ruling to dictate the amount of sanctions Antigua may impose on the United States. If granted, Antigua would gain compensation in the form of intellectual property sanctions.

The United States replied in September, arguing that Antigua's $3.4 billion claim was "disconnected from economic reality," and suggested $500,000 as a more accurate figure.

But Antigua refuted the United States' claim in October, saying that Internet gambling companies are not included in annual economic figures for the country because they are not required by law to report their profits -- meaning the United States' figure, according to Antigua, is grossly underestimated.

Mendel could not be immediately reached for comment.