Antigua and Barbuda could seek a mediator in gaming dispute

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Antigua and Barbuda will contemplate a request to the Director-General of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to seek a mediator in its 15-year online gaming dispute with the United States.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States, Sir Ronald Sanders, told the WTO body on Friday, that “after a long period of exhausting attempts to engage the United States, Antigua and Barbuda is now contemplating approaching the Director-General under the DSU provisions to join in seeking a mediated solution that would bring much needed relief after these arduous 15 years of damage to our economy”.
The ambassador said using the arbitrator’s measure of impairment, in the 15 years that have elapsed, Antigua and Barbuda has lost US $315 million, or more than a quarter of its annual Gross Domestic Product.
In 2008, 2013 and 2015 the U.S. made offers it described as “creative and generous settlement proposals”, which successive governments of Antigua and Barbuda have found unacceptable, and according to Sanders, those proposals were found “unacceptable” because “none of them added up to even one percent of the damage done to the Antigua and Barbuda’s economy”.
In 2013, the WTO authorised Antigua and Barbuda to suspend obligations to the United States in respect of intellectual property rights to recover US $21 million annually.
Antigua and Barbuda did not act on that authorisation in the hope that the United States would agree to a fair and reasonable settlement.  
In 2014, the Gaston Browne–led administration revealed the details of its US $100 million offer made to the United States for a settlement in the longstanding dispute and the prime minister said he was seeking a combination of cash and in-kind support.
In 2015 the government announced that it anticipated an end to the dispute.
In 2016, the prime minister said that the U.S. could pay the US $21 million a year but they are not interested in doing so.
In 2017, after Hurricane Irma’s devastation of Barbuda, Prime Minister Browne made an appeal to the U.S. to pay up.
The online gaming dispute began in 2003 when U.S. authorities began to restrict its citizens from accessing Internet gaming services based in Antigua and Barbuda.
The move was seen by the WTO as contrary to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) – a WTO managed international treaty.
In 2007, the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO ruled that Antigua and Barbuda was entitled to US  $21 million annually in compensation, but that has never been collected.

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