Sunday 10. January, 2016

Antigua and US Ready to Resolve Gambling Trade Dispute

After thirteen years of dispute over online gambling, the Antigua Foreign Affairs Minister, Charles Fernandez, has announced that the government of Antigua is prepared to accept the United State’s offer that will resolve the dispute once and for all.

Thirteen years ago, Antigua and Barbuda filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) accusing the US of unfair trade and discrimination against their licensed online gambling sites. The US defended its actions stating that it blocked international gambling sites from its citizens in an attempt to reduce problem gambling and that it had a responsibility to do so.

The WTO sided with Antigua stating that the US policy was hypocritical as they allowed domestic gambling sites to operate; only blocking international sites. Their ruling awarded Antigua $21 million annually from the US to cover losses incurred by the US ban. To date, the US has not paid any of the award.

The previous administration of Antigua was not prepared to negotiate with the US over their debt or their position; however Prime Minister Gaston Browne of the Labor Party, who was elected in 2014, has attempted to come to some sort of agreement with the United States. They have previously offered to cut the US debt in half; however these negotiations have gone nowhere.

Now, the United States has made an offer, the details of which have remained undisclosed, and on Christmas Eve it was announced that the government would accept the deal. Antigua is keen to settle the agreement this month and it is yet to be seen if members of the former ruling party, the United Progressive Party, will attempt to undermine Browne’s negotiations and prevent the deal from going through.

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