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Antigua-US Gaming Talks Stall Again

by Mike Godfrey, Lowtax.net, New York
25 November, 2013

The latest talks between Antigua and Barbuda and the United States aimed at resolving the longstanding gaming dispute between the two jurisdictions turned out to be "disappointing", according to Antiguan Ambassador Colin Murdoch.

Mr Murdoch led a delegation to Washington, DC to meet US representatives on November 14, 2013. The meeting was convened with the aim of reaching a resolution on the ongoing dispute over US laws blocking foreign-based operators from offering cross-border gambling and betting services to US consumers.

The ambassador said afterwards that: "There is no escaping the fact that this was a disappointing meeting, and that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) proposals fell far short of what is required to settle this matter. In failing to address key proposals that we have made, the USTR has put US intellectual property rights holders at risk."

The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled earlier this year that the Caribbean territory could suspend USD21m worth of US intellectual property rights per year as compensation for the US measures, which were deemed to be in breach of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

At the meeting in Washington the US made its first ever proposal for settling the decade-long dispute. However, Murdoch said that the aggregate value of all possible elements of the proposal was considerably less than the damages awarded by the WTO.

"What is really needed is something tailored specifically to the needs of Antigua and Barbuda which addresses the economic damage done by the failure of the United States to comply with its obligations under the WTO agreements," Murdoch said.

Antigua and Barbuda remains open to further negotiations with the US, but Murdoch noted that "barring a considerable move by the US to the middle in its negotiating posture," further discussions are "unlikely in the near term."

In October Antigua and Barbuda announced that it had formed a WTO Remedies Implementation Committee aimed at "harvesting benefits" from the suspension of US intellectual property rights.

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