Antigua Seeks Compensation for US' GATS Withdrawa

30 January 2008

Antigua and Barbuda has requested that the World Trade Organization arbitrate a settlement between itself and the United States as compensation for the U.S. decision to remove gambling services from its schedule of international trade commitments.

This arbitration is separate from the dispute case in which the WTO awarded Antigua a $21 million settlement in annual trade sanctions last month.

The dispute case was concerned with determining whether U.S. gambling policy does in fact violate the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services, and if so, how much compensation does Antigua deserve.

But the recently filed arbitration will be concerned with determining how much compensation Antigua deserves now that the United States has chosen to renege on its trade commitments.

An important rule under the GATS is that any country that alters its market access schedule must offer compensation to affected countries in order to maintain trade "not less favorable" than what was provided originally. Affected countries can call for arbitration if they cannot reach a satisfactory deal.

Antigua has requested a settlement of more than $2 billion.

Costa Rica has also also applied for arbitration but not disclosed the amount it seeks as settlement.

The European Union, Japan and Canada have been able to reach agreements with the United States without seeking arbitration.

The United States was able to appease Brussels by including postal, courier, storage, warehouse and research and development services into its schedule of commitments. Canada and Japan have not revealed the details of their agreements with the United States.

India has stated that it does not wish to overburden the WTO by filing for arbitration, and Macau has not confirmed whether or not it has filed for arbitration.

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