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Antigua lawyer: No settlement likely by deadline
The deadline for Antigua and Barbuda and the United States to come to a settlement on their own in the World Trade Organization dispute over online gambling is set for Friday, and officials aren't optimistic about coming to a resolution before then.
According to a Canadian Press story, Mark Mendel, Antigua and Barbuda's legal counsel in the WTO dispute, said he didn't think the nations would be able to come to an agreement by the June 6 deadline they had set.
The two countries had resumed negotiations after Antigua and Barbuda had asked the WTO to provide arbitration when they originally couldn't come to a settlement agreement with regard to the United States choosing to withdraw online gambling from its WTO commitments.
The United States made that move in response to the WTO ruling that the U.S. online gambling ban was in violation of trade regulations set by the WTO.
Antigua and Barbuda had initiated the WTO's investigation into the matter several years ago, and after the WTO ruled more than once that the United States wasn't in compliance, Antigua and Barbuda was allowed to ask for compensation.
While the two countries talked about compensation for the original WTO ruling, the United States decided to pull online gambling from its WTO commitments, opening the nation up to further claims from other nations involved in online gambling as well as a second claim from Antigua and Barbuda.
Antigua and Barbuda took its initial claim to WTO arbitration and had it settled that way, and it had requested arbitration for the second claim before heading back to the bargaining table one more time.
Antigua and Barbuda had originally been looking for $3.4 billion annually in compensation from the United States, and the WTO arbitrators gave Antigua the right to impose $21 million in annual trade sanctions for the dispute.
Antigua and Barbuda had hoped that their second shot at compensation would give them a chance to once again argue their side and bring that number up.
That initial arbitration ruling may not even matter, however, if the current talks between the two nations continue to move forward. The negotiations involve the settlement for the original dispute as well as the current compensation for their WTO commitments withdrawal.
"I am very encouraged that there are at least components of a possible settlement agreement," Antigua and Barbuda Finance Minster Errol Cort said in the Canadian Press article.
It is possible Antigua and Barbuda could extend the deadline to allow for more negotiations before asking the WTO arbitrators to step in once again.