U.S. lowballs Antigua, EU in WTO dispute

The Money
The European Union and Antigua and Barbuda are waiting for the U.S. to show them the money.

The United States responded to Antigua and Barbuda's $3.4 billion compensation claim last week, countering with its own offer of $500,000. The nation also made an offer to the European Union to settle claims on that front as well for violating trade agreements with its online gambling ban.

With regard to Antigua and Barbuda's claim, the United States has continued to maintain that the $3.4 billion estimate for compensation is unreasonable and too high.

"The level of Antigua's nullification and impairment should be roughly $0.5 million, and certainly no greater than approximately $3 million per year in lost exports of gambling services," the United States argued in a 25-page written submission to the WTO last week, according to the Antigua Sun.

One of the United States Trade Representative's claims is that Antigua and Barbuda's $3.4 billion claim is nearly four times larger than the tiny nation's entire economy, and thus "wildly out of line with any realistic figure."

Antigua and Barbuda submitted a methodology report earlier this month justifying the $3.4 billion figure it is claiming. According to the Antigua Sun, Mark Mendel, Antigua and Barbuda's WTO attorney, didn't discuss details of the U.S. response, but said he remains confident in the strength of his nation's position.

Mendel is currently focused on preparing for the next brief he must file with the WTO on Oct. 4 as Antigua and Barbuda seeks authorization to impose its sanction.

The nation is seeking to target copyrighted material produced in the United States to get its compensation.

The negotiations between the two nations in relation to the United States' planned withdrawal from WTO commitments related to online gambling are also ongoing. The deadline to wrap them up had been Saturday, but both sides agreed to a 30-day extension.

"I think they are now coming to a recognition that they have a big problem with us, and I sense that they are beginning to realize that they need to come to some kind of agreeable solution," Mendel said in the Antigua Sun. "I am a little bit hopeful that we are getting their attention."

If Antigua can't get their attention, perhaps the European Union will.

According to the Financial Times, the United States has made a proposal to the European Union to open up opportunities in the storage, warehouse services and technical testing sectors to make up for withdrawing from trade agreements involving online gambling.

However, this is probably not going to equal the $4 billion a year that EU companies are losing from not being able to offer their services to American gamblers, and gambling groups are pressing the EU to reject the deal.

This is also the same concession the U.S is offering as part of the Doha round of world trade talks in the WTO, a completely separate matter from the online gambling issue.

Talks between the United States and the EU have been extended in the matter for another month while the EU examines the value of the offer.

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