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Antigua & Barbuda today went before a three person panel of the WTO arbitration committee to substantiate claims of $3.4 billion against the U.S. for its treaty violation of cross-border trade in services over Internet gambling.
Antigua & Barbuda have won its case at the WTO and the appeals by the U.S. and now seeks remedy for its substantial losses. In its decision the WTO upheld a U.S. decision to prevent cross border gambling, it did however rule that it was illegal for the U.S. to target offshore gambling outlets and not apply the same rules to American operators.
The U.S. Trade Representative has since filed that it will seek to remove this trade in service from the original GATS commitment. This action has sparked other countries, which include the entire 27 member European Union, Japan, Canada, Costa Rica, Macau, Australia and India, all WTO member states, to file compensation claims against the U.S. for real or future losses.
Under rules of the WTO, the U.S. may be liable for an amount that is equal to the total dollar volume of the domestic industry for this service, which is estimated to be more than $100 billion annually combined.
The WTO arbitrators must decide by November 30, what, if any, penalties shall be awarded to Antigua & Barbuda.
The U.S. has suggested that the amount of monetary damage claimed by the tiny twin island nation is extreme and the true value should be placed in the neighborhood of $500,000.
On its face, this counter claim by the U.S. is considered by experts to be ridiculous.
“The fees alone for attorneys involved in the litigation at the WTO far exceed this amount,” said Casino Gambling Web’s analyst, Gordon Price.
Antigua & Barbuda submitted a 53 page document which outlined the rationale for the lifting of copyright law due to the absence of Washington agreeing to follow its original WTO commitments. Citing that the relatively small size of trade with the U.S. would not be adequate to compensate it for its losses.
The U.S. has thus far treated this issue as a minor inconvenience, refusing to negotiate any settlement with Antigua as it is required to do. However the stakes of the outcome could actually determine if the WTO will cease to exist.