|According to a piece in the Antigua Sun, a settlement to the five-year trade dispute between the US and Antigua over Internet gambling could be finalised as soon as today.|
The newspaper quoted Mark Mendel, the tiny Caribbean island’s attorney in its World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute, as stating that the US is scheduled to put forward a proposal for the settlement of both aspects of the trade dispute today and that he was taking a wait and see approach.
“I am assuming that if they are going to be good to their word that they will have a proposal,” said Mendel.
“It will be either a proposal or no proposal by the end of the month.”
Mendel revealed that, despite the controversial $21 million in sanctions against the US awarded by a WTO Dispute Settlement Body arbitrator in December, the pending proposal is expected to address aspects of the trade dispute dealing with America’s failure to comply with WTO rulings on access for Internet gaming operators.
It should also address a second aspect of the trade conflict stemming from Antigua’s claim for compensation as the US seeks to withdraw from its commitment to provide market access to the sector under the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services.
“Any settlement that we would do would be comprehensive,” said Mendel.
“It would take in everything. They are two separate issues if we have to litigate them but if we can settle something then it should all be settled in one go.”
He stated that the two parties are not bound by the decision of the arbitrator if they come to a bilateral agreement and that Antigua had not put forward any guidelines suggesting what it felt would be a reasonable settlement.
“Between the two of yourselves, you can settle anything,” said Mendel.
“We’re just going to see what they come up with and then re-evaluate. We have no idea what they’re thinking.”