Antigua & Barbuda, November 13, 2013 -- Antigua & Barbuda’s WTO Gaming Negotiation Team is slated to convene a meeting with the Office of the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) on 14th November 2013 in Washington, DC. This meeting is aimed at resolving the long standing WTO cross-border supply of gaming services dispute between Antigua & Barbuda and the United States.
The Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, The Hon. Winston B. Spencer has expounded publically that resolving this issue in a fair, reasonable and positive manner is a top priority of his Government. Antigua & Barbuda’s Negotiating Team from capital comprises of Ambassador Colin Murdoch, Permanent Secretary (Trade, Industry & Commerce), Mrs. Kaye McDonald, Director of Offshore Gaming (FSRC) and Ms. Joy-Marie King (Trade, Industry & Commerce).
The capital based officials will join Her Excellency Dame Deborah-Mae Lovell (Ambassador to the USA & Permanent Representative to the OAS), Mrs. Joydee Davis Lake (First Secretary Washington Mission) and Mrs. Ann-Marie Layne-Campbell (Consul General Toronto Mission) along with the nation’s legal counsel in the WTO matter Mr. Mark Mendel.
The United States breached commitments it made to WTO members under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (the “GATS”) by maintaining and enforcing laws which act to prevent foreign-based operators--including those based in Antigua and Barbuda--from offering gambling and betting services on a cross-border basis to consumers located in the United States.
The WTO ruled back in 2004 that these laws contravened the obligations of the United States under the GATS and directed the Americans to bring their laws into compliance with their GATS obligations. The initial ruling was upheld on appeals and despite occasional claims of compliance, the United States remains in violation of international law. Sustained attempts by the Antiguan government to negotiate a reasonable and balanced settlement have not been effective, as the United States has failed to engage with Antigua and Barbuda to date in any meaningful way.
Recourse to the suspension of concessions and other obligations in respect of US intellectual property rights was first awarded by the WTO in late 2007 and confirmed in January 2013. The suspension of these rights is a remedy conferred by the WTO agreements as a means to encourage members to comply with rulings against them.
In light of the final ruling, Antigua & Barbuda has undertaken steps to exercise the rights stipulated by the DSB verdict with the formation of its WTO Remedies Implementation Committee which is tasked with designing an instrument to carry out the suspension of intellectual property rights of United States companies.
The committee is chaired by the Attorney General Hon. Justin Simon QC and includes Permanent Secretary in the Department of Trade, Industry and Commerce, Ambassador Colin Murdoch; Magistrate and Deputy Registrar of Intellectual Property, Conliffe Clarke; Legislative Drafter in the Department of Legal Affairs, Ayesha Baisden; Deputy Financial Secretary in the Department of Finance, John Edwards; Mr. Daryl Jackson, Information Technology Consultant within the Ministry of Information and Ms. Joy-Marie King (Trade, Industry & Commerce) along with legal counsel, Mr. Mark Mendel.
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