Victory against the USA
On 25th March 2004 the Antigua Sun Newspaper
Antigua and Barbuda has won a seminal victory at
the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in its dispute against the USA.
The SUN learned yesterday that the WTO disputes panel
has ruled in favour of this country in its action against the world's
Antigua and Barbuda had earlier presented arguments
to the panel to the effect that the US government in legislating
against transactions between US financial institutions and Antigua
and Barbuda-based Internet gaming companies, was acting in breach
of its obligations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services
(GATS).When contacted yesterday, Sir Ronald Sanders, the head of
this country's representative team at the WTO dispute, confirmed
to the SUN that the disputes panel at the WTO had indeed recommended
that the USA be requested by the WTO to bring the offending revenue
measures into conformity with US obligations under the GATS.
According to Sanders, an appeal is likely. "The US has fought us at every
stage of the way on this issue," he said, "and we"re sure they
will appeal this decision. We"re very pleased with the result however,
and although the US can appeal on strictly technical aspects of the case, the
dispute will have to come to an end at some stage, and there's no doubt in
my mind that the issue will ultimately be resolved in our favour."
The Chief Negotiator told the SUN the US Government had two months in which
to give notice of appeal and a further two months in which to enter its arguments
and that the issue should be concluded very shortly thereafter.
At stake is the future of the internet gaming industry on the island, one of
the important pillars of diversification and expansion of the country's services
The US had enacted legislation to inhibit Internet gambling by making it a
crime for US financial institutions to accept or facilitate credit cards payments,
wire transfers or any other banking instruments in relation to gaming transactions
with companies in Antigua and elsewhere.
It is estimated that the loss of earnings to Antigua and Barbuda was in excess
of US$20 million after a number of Internet gaming and offshore companies ceased
operations on the island as a result of the US action.