Latest gaming services meeting between Antigua-Barbuda and US disappointing, says ambassador

Ambassador Colin Murdoch
Ambassador Colin Murdoch

St John’s, Antigua — Ambassador Colin Murdoch, who led a delegation representing Antigua and Barbuda to meet with US representatives in Washington, DC, on November 14, 2013, in another effort to resolve the longstanding dispute between the two countries at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) involving the cross border supply of remote gaming services, has described the meeting as “disappointing.”

Murdoch said, “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.”

Murdoch further noted that, even if all possible elements in the US proposal — its first offer of settlement over the decade-long span of the dispute — were aggregated, the value of the offer would be considerably less than the US$21.0 million in annual damages awarded by a WTO panel back in 2007.

Without going into details, the ambassador stated, “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.”

Antigua and Barbuda’s WTO Remedies Implementation Committee has the specific objective of designing and implementing an instrument for exercising measures that will act on the authorization for intellectual property right suspensions against US companies authorized by the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).

The DSB in January 2013 authorized intellectual property (IP) sanctions against US companies as the United States has failed to comply with the previous ruling of the DSB.

The WTO Remedies Implementation committee had previously recommended the following:

a. The establishment of a statutory body to own, manage and operate the ultimate platform to be created for the monetisation or other exploitation of the suspension of American intellectual property rights;

b. The necessary domestic legislation to implement the remedies which is in the final stages of preparation for submission to Parliament; and

c. An announcement regarding the opening of tenders for private sector participation in the operation of the IT platform to be made shortly.

Although the government of Antigua and Barbuda remains open to further discussions with the United States over a resolution of the dispute, Murdoch observed that “barring a considerable move by the US to the middle in its negotiating posture”, additional discussions are “unlikely in the near term”.

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