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Antigua and Barbuda's Finance Minister has announced that the government will pursue sanctions against the United States after the American government has failed to implement a World Trade Organization ruling regarding online gambling.
The two nations have been in a trade dispute since 2003, when Antigua charged that the U.S.'s stance on internet gambling is discriminatory against the island nation. The WTO ruled in Antigua's favor, saying that the U.S. was violating international trade law by not treating domestic betting operators the same way that it does international operators in regards to horse and dog race bets.
Despite years of negotiations between the two countries to rectify the matter, nothing has come as a result. Because of the stalemate, Antigua is set to target U.S. copyrights, trademarks, and services in order to work with such sanctions.
Speaking about the matter to the Associated Press, Antigua Finance Minister Harold Lovell said: As a small country, it is not our intention to have a fight with the United States. But we believe also that as a sovereign nation we are entitled to all the rights and the protection of the WTO. We believe the time has come having exhausted all other possibilities.”
Antigua will announce its plans to pursue action in front of the WTO on December 17th in Geneva. During the meeting Antigua will announce the specifics of their plan.
Lovell said that at its peak, the online gambling sector brought in $1 billion in income for the island annually and employed more than 3,000 people. However, since the U.S. began cracking down on internet gambling, the country has seen the industry lose 2,600 of those jobs and drastically reduced industry income.
“We have basically been driven over our fiscal cliff .... We feel that we really have had our backs pushed right up against the wall,” said Lovell.
Lovell went on to point out the hypocrisy of the U.S. stance on the matter, noting that the country threatened to take China to the WTO regarding pirating and counterfeit items.
“We believe that the same rules that apply to big countries should be the same rules that apply to small countries. It is very difficult for us to sit back and hear the United States speak about unfair trade practices that are alleged against China, and at the same time ... we’ve played by the rules, we’ve done everything that we were required to do, we were successful - and yet we have not been able to arrive at a proper conclusion to this matter," Lovell said.