U.S. WTO deadline Saturday

The Spoils of War

The clock is ticking down to the deadline the United States was given by the World Trade Organization to make a deal with Antigua and Barbuda for monetary compensation because of its anti-online gambling laws.

Antigua and Barbuda have been fighting the U.S. online gambling laws since 2003 when they initially filed a case against the nation. Since then the WSO has ruled twice that laws restricting online gambling in the United States don't comply with trade regulations set up by the organization.

Now the case finally came to a head with the United States conceding it was in the wrong, but instead of working on changing its laws to comply with the WTO, it is choosing to face the possible penalties and change the part of the trade agreement that deals with online gambling.

At the end of August, Antigua and Barbuda had its chance to present its argument for seeding $3.4 billion in sanctions against the United States. The tiny island nation's plan is to target copyrighted materials created in America to get its compensation.

This means once the sanctions are implemented, copyrighted material such as movies, music, video games, computer programs and more can be legally reproduced and sold in Antigua and Barbuda without compensation to the U.S. companies that originally produced them.

Meanwhile, the two nations have been working with arbitrators to come to an agreeable settlement.

Moreover, $3.4 billion is just the beginning of Antigua and Barbuda's claim.

Mark Mendel, Antigua and Barbuda's attorney at the WTO, said the nation has yet to file a claim to address the issue of the United States' decision to withdraw from the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services.

That claim could be just as much as or more than the $3.4 billion Antigua and Barbuda is seeking now, bringing the total up near $7 billion.

It's likely the United States will end up asking for an extension to the deadline set for Saturday. Even so, once it settles with Antigua and Barbuda, it will still face claims from other nations.

Australia, Costa Rica, Canada, the European Union, India, Japan and Macau have all announced intentions to file claims with the WTO as well. Each country's claim will have to be handled independently, and the U.S. could be dealing with claims for years.

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