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Emily D. Swoboda

Mendel on WTO Ruling: 'It's a High-Anxiety Time'

14 December 2007

The World Trade Organization arbitration panel is expected to deliver its decision in the Internet gambling trade dispute between the United States and Antigua and Barbuda by next week.

Mark Mendel, lead counsel for Antigua and Barbuda in the case, said today the panel was finishing the report and getting it translated and would let him know on Monday precisely when it would be released.

"So, I'm hoping that we'll get it within the week," Mendel said. "It's a very high-anxiety time for me."

Despite his unease, Mendel is confident in the case he has presented on behalf of his client. It's up to the panel now, he said.

"I think that we have definitely proven our case and if it's a fair process then we should come out of this very, very well," Mendel said. "But at the end of the day I just don't know."

Mendel is hopeful that another ruling in Antigua's favor will finally give the U.S. government the reality check it needs.

"This is fundamentally the last step," Mendel said. "If we get the kind of ruling that we are entitled to then I think the Americans are out of options. If we get what I expect, I am hoping that it's going to light a real fire under them and make them realize that they are going to have to settle with us somehow. It's almost as if they keep hoping that they are going to win and really this is the last place where they could get some kind of win. But I don't expect that, and hopefully they don't either. But it's been impossible to get them to focus on finding a meaningful compromise here and hopefully we get a big number we get to retaliate against them and it will drive them to the negotiating table."

Meanwhile, today is also the deadline for negotiations between the United States and the European Union over the United States' decision in May to withdraw gambling services from its commitments to the General Agreement on Trade in Services.

The European Union has been in negotiations with the United States since June. If a solution is not reached, the European Union could ask the United States for $100 billion in compensation for closing its borders to EU operators.

Nao Matsukata, former director of policy planning for the U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick, said the parties were in the final throes of putting a deal together and an announcement would likely be made on Monday.

"They're much closer than anybody anticipated they would be," Matsukata said.

Mendel on WTO Ruling: 'It's a High-Anxiety Time' is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda