U.S. may offer settlement to Antigua


The United States is scheduled to put forward a proposed settlement to Antigua and Barbuda at the end of the month in their online gambling trade dispute.

According to the Antigua Sun, it's hoped the proposed settlement will put an end to the five-year trade battle over Internet gaming between the two nations.

Antigua and Barbuda had filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization with regard to the United States' ban on Internet gambling. The WTO ruled that the U.S. laws obstructing online gambling are in violation of trade agreements it made as a part of the WTO.

Since then, Antigua has been battling for compensation in the matter. It was awarded $21 million per year in trade sanctions by a WTO arbitration panel in the initial ruling.

Rather than changing its laws to comply with the trade regulations, however, the United States chose to change its commitments to the WTO, which opened the nation up to compensation claims from other nations with an online gambling industry, as well as to a second claim from Antigua.

Antigua once again requested arbitration by the WTO to settle the claim, but the proposed settlement due on Monday, according to Mark Mendel, Antigua's attorney in the WTO dispute, could bring both aspects of the trade dispute to a close.

Mendel told the Antigua Sun that the proposal, if it is submitted, will address both the initial trade dispute as well as the withdrawal of the United States' commitments to the WTO.

"Any settlement that we do would be comprehensive. It would take in everything," Mendel said in the article. "They are (two separate issues) if we have to litigate them, but if we can settle something then it should all be settled in one go."

In previous news reports, Mendel had said that the United States had stopped efforts to negotiate a settlement. However, if the two parties can come to an acceptable agreement, they are not bound by the WTO arbitrator's previous decision.

Mendel indicated that he had no idea what might be in the United States' proposal, and they are just waiting to see what the proposal is and re-evaluate their position.

Several other countries have filed claims against the United States since it announced its withdrawal of online gambling from its WTO agreements. Costa Rica was the latest to reach a settlement agreement with the United States, along with Canada, Japan and the European Union.

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