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No Progress for US, Antigua in WTO Dispute

19 August 2003

Meeting in Geneva under the chairmanship of the World Trade Organization's secretariat on Tuesday and Thursday last week, representatives from the United States and the islands of Antigua and Barbuda were unable to agree upon the composition of the dispute panel that will mitigate their argument.

Antigua and Barbuda delivered a complaint against the United States to a WTO dispute body in June. The island nation's representatives argue that U.S. policies prohibiting credit-card companies and financial institutions from delivering funds for online gambling transactions are in violation of the general agreement on trade in services. They also contest that the policies are crippling Antigua's economy, which is highly dependent on interactive gaming. The United States blocked Antigua's request to set up an arbitration panel.

The case appeared before the dispute settlement body again in July, however, and this time it authorized the establishment of a panel to resolve the dispute. The panel was to be assembled at last week's meetings, but the two sides couldn't come to terms.

Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua's senior foreign ministry official and chief negotiator, said U.S. representatives were responsible for the failure to move forward.

"We were provided with two lists of people by the WTO secretariat, most of whom were rejected by the U.S. on the basis that they didn’t like what someone said about them or wrote about them or whatever," Sanders explained.

Sanders ultimately exercised his right to ask the WTO's director general to appoint the panel, which, he said, will happen today at 6 p.m. Geneva time.

"At that point, he added, "I don't think anybody will be able to question it, and the panel will go ahead."

The next step is for the parties to present their arguments to the dispute panel. Sanders said WTO policies dictate that the case must proceed.

"It has to happen within 30 days," he said. "There are very clear rules laid down on all of this, you know; there is no hemming and hawing about it. They just have to proceed on the basis of the rules."

Two years ago, Antigua had over 100 online gaming operators, which employed around 5,000 people. There are now fewer than 40 operators. Antigua's Prime Minister, Lester Bird, has said that U.S. policies have cost the Antiguan economy around $30 million.

The WTO, which has 146 countries as members, serves several functions, including administering trade agreements, acting as a forum for trade negotiations, handling trade disputes, monitoring national trade policies and offering technical assistance and training to developing countries.

No Progress for US, Antigua in WTO Dispute is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Bradley Vallerius

Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com
Bradley Vallerius
Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials.

Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

Bradley Vallerius Websites:

www.FortheBettorGood.com