Antigua Seeks WTO-Imposed Sanctions on US

20 June 2007

The twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda (Antigua), long at odds with the U.S. government over its restrictions on Internet gambling, announced this morning that it would seek compensation from the United States via the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Antigua informed the Geneva-based trade referee of its intention to seek concessions, primarily through the suspension of its obligations regarding U.S. copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs and patents, worth an estimated $3.44 billion, annually.

"We feel we have no other choice in the matter," said Errol Cort, Antigua's Finance Minister. "We have fought long and hard for fair access to the U.S. market and have won at every stage of the WTO process."

Antigua's government said that the sanctions it requested "will come into effect shortly," should the United States not refer the issue to arbitration. If, however, the United States elects to take the issue to arbitration, a WTO panel will decide on the final level and scope of the sanctions that may be imposed by Antigua.

"If we can’t convince the United States to sit at the bargaining table with Antigua, maybe some of the adversely affected American business interests will be able to do so," said Mark Mendel, counsel for Antigua.

On Tuesday, the European Union told the United States that it, too, would seek compensation via the WTO for last year's ban on foreign gambling sites, which forced British gaming companies out of the $15.5 billion U.S. I-gaming market.