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Antigua and Barbuda Approaches Joe Biden

Mike Godfrey, New York

11 June 2013

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, said he came away from a recent meeting between leaders of the Caribbean Community and the Dominican Republic and US Vice President Joe Biden encouraged about the prospects in the cross-border gaming dispute between Antigua and Barbuda and the US.

Spencer urged Mr Biden to use his influence in the Obama Administration to speedily bring the long-running World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute to a fair settlement.

"I came away from the meeting feeling more encouraged than I have before," Spencer said. "I think we were able to use the opportunity of this meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden to bring our case more sharply into focus with the US administration and to gain momentum for a final settlement."

The prime minister said he now expects that the negotiations under way with the US Trade Representative would accelerate and that new and innovative proposals would be tabled in the search for a solution.

The dispute began in 2003 following measures introduced by the United States affecting the cross-border supply of gambling and betting services. The WTO concurred with Antigua and Barbuda's argument that United States' legislation prohibiting the provision of overseas online gambling services contravened the nation's commitments under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). In January of this year the WTO controversially authorized Antigua and Barbuda to retaliate by suspending its obligations to the US in respect of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement.

It is said that the direct actions of the US reduced the remote gaming industry in Antigua, which had been estimated to be worth over USD3.4bn and was the country's second largest employer, from one providing 4,000 jobs to a sector with less than 500 jobs currently. Fees paid by the gaming industry to the government had helped to fund such public services as education and healthcare.

TAGS: education | gambling | legislation | trade disputes | Antigua and Barbuda | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Spain | United States | trade | services

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