Lawmakers Criticise Trade Representative
By Staff
Eight Washington lawmakers, including the influential Chairmen of two important Committees, have criticised the US Trade Representative at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) this week over the handling of the notorious online gambling dispute.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers along with six other lawmakers have criticised the Bush administration's handling of the issue in a letter to US Trade Representative Susan Schwab. The letter states that the unilateral withdrawal of the US from obligations following the Government’s loss in a case brought by Antigua over the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) could cost the United States billions of dollars in compensation.

The story has received wide publicity through top news agencies such as Reuters and the Associated Press with the legislators recommending that the Bush administration explore ways to roll back the ban on online gambling instead of paying compensation to impacted WTO nations that have submitted claims.

The letter is also critical of the lack of consultation by the Bush White House with Congress during the case brought by the tiny Caribbean island last year.

'Your agency has chosen not to consult with Congress but instead to take what we view as a drastic step, which could have significant consequences for the whole WTO system,' read the letter.

The United States has been negotiating with the European Union, India, Japan, Costa Rica, Macao, Canada and Australia on compensation with the trading partners recently setting a mid-December deadline.

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