Antigua Optimistic ahead of W.T.O. Settlement Deadline

27 May 2008

Negotiations continue between Antigua and Barbuda and the United States over a five-year Internet gambling trade dispute, and representatives from the twin-island nation are optimistic after a meeting on Friday.

Mark E. Mendel, counsel for Antigua, told Interactive Gaming News he remains hopeful of a satisfactory resolution, and that his client is working to establish common ground with the United States trade representative's office.

"Based upon the meetings of last week, I think there is still desire to continue to sift through all this stuff and see if we can find that common ground," Mr. Mendel said.

The World Trade Organization in December awarded Antigua $21.1 million in annual trade sanctions against the United States in the form of suspending certain copyrights and trademarks.

Antigua chose instead to negotiate a settlement and in January met with Susan C. Schwab, the United States trade representative, to begin discussions.

L. Errol Cort, Antigua's finance minister, told the Antigua Sun that while the parties have not yet reached a settlement, he felt the dispute was "closer to a settlement than we were when we met first on 18 Jan."

After the trade representative's office failed to meet the original settlement deadline of March 30, Antigua pushed back the date to June 6.

Dr. Cort told The Sun that he could not disclose the terms discussed on Friday, but said he is hopeful the parties will be able to reach an agreement before the deadline.

After repeated phone calls, IGN was unable to reach Gretchen Hamel or Sean Spicer, spokespersons for the trade representative's office, for comment.

IGN was unable to reach a representative from Dr. Cort's office for comment.

Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.