|The small nation of Antigua and Barbuda said yesterday that the United States should face commercial sanctions worth more than $3.4 billion each year for its failure to comply with a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that its Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) is illegal.|
The Caribbean jurisdiction stated that it is asking the trade body for authorization to target American trademarks and copyrights if the US refuses to change the legislation. It argues that, before the ban was introduced, online gambling provided income for hundreds of its citizens and helped end its reliance on tourism, which was hurt by a series of hurricanes in the late 1990s.
Antigua said these sanctions would come into effect shortly unless the United States requests a WTO arbitration panel on the level and scope of the sanctions.
'While we realize this is a significant step for Antigua and Barbuda to take, we feel we have no other choice in the matter,' said L Errol Cort, Finance Minster for Antigua.
'Until such time as the United States is willing to work with us on achieving a reasonable solution to this trade dispute, we will continue to use every legitimate remedy available to protect the interests of our citizens.”
The WTO ruled in December that the UIGEA Act was unfairly targeting offshore casinos and told the Americans that it could keep restrictions against sportsbetting in place if they were also applied to American businesses such as operators of remote horse betting.
WTO officials said they had received Antigua's request but were unable to provide details on its contents.
'We will continue to work with Antigua and Barbuda to try to find a mutually satisfactory resolution to this dispute,” said Gretchen Hamel, Spokeswoman for the US Trade Representative in Washington.
Meanwhile, Japan and India added extra pressure on the United States by filing WTO compensation requests as a result of Washington's attempt to change the details of its obligations under the 1994 General Agreement On Trade In Services.