EDITORIAL: Injustice deserves justice

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They can jump high and they can jump low, but the fact is: the United States of America owes Antigua and Barbuda. It all stems from our complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the United States was in violation of its commitments regarding the cross-border supply of gambling and betting services. 
We began the complaint process on the 21st March, 2003. Four long years later (30th March, 2007), and following delays and an appeal by the United States, we secured victory when the Article 21.5 panel report was circulated to Members. The Panel concluded that “the United States had failed to comply with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB.” (The DSB being the Dispute Settlement Body.)
Most recently, our representative in the matter, Sir Ronald Sanders, appeared before the WTO and reported, “It continues to be most unfortunate that, despite 14 long years of deprivation, Antigua and Barbuda has to appear before this body, year after year, to report that the United States has not seen it possible to offer fair and equitable terms to my small country for the significant losses in trade revenues that it has suffered as a result of US violation of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).”
Sir Ronald let the world know that the big, bad United States – the so-called ‘leader of the free world’ – was not willing to abide by the WTO rulings and pay the paltry (to them) U.S. $20 million per year settlement. 
He pointed out that the last offer was an insulting amount that did not even amount to U.S. $2 million; less than 1 percent of what they owed. Not even a penny on the dollar to settle this great wrong. It is proof positive that hypocrisy knows no bounds.
In the past, we have talked about the bullying tactics that our big brother to the north has employed in relation to this award. It has not only ignored its international obligations, but it has threatened us with reprisals if we implement the resolutions provided to us by the WTO; namely the suspension of intellectual property rights to satisfy the award. 
It is mind-blowing and beyond hypocritical that the country which has launched more complaints with the WTO than any other, by a long shot, should decide to ignore a ruling that has not gone its way.  We guess that  it sees us as an annoying gnat that is easier to squash than to comply with the ruling. 
According to the WTO website (wto.org), the United States has lodged 114 complaints with the organisation. The entire European Union has only lodged 97 – and that is a union of 28 countries! Beyond that, the next closest is Canada with 35 complaints.
So, the country that uses and complains to the WTO the most is the one that is ignoring it because it didn’t get its way in this matter. And because they are the biggest bully on the block, they get away with it. Might is right! Morally wrong, but that is of no concern to the powers that be in the good ole’ US of A.
This is an extremely sad situation. The options available to us are few to none. None of the other ‘big boys’ are going to come to our aid as the bully continually steals our lunch money. But we are not afraid. We fight for a just cause, in the face of near insurmountable odds, and we will be victorious, ultimately.
That is why we compliment the government for holding the line and not caving on this one. The world’s biggest complainer (to the WTO) cannot be allowed to do just as it likes without anyone saying or doing anything. Our pride is worth more than the paltry offering that it has made.
And if you want to see how the salt is being pressed into the wound, just listen to Sir Ronald as he puts our trade imbalance into perspective. In reflecting on the 14 years of trade losses, he stated, “over that same period, the US enjoyed a trade surplus with little Antigua and Barbuda of U.S. $2 billion.” You want more? Of the U.S. $3.65 trillion forecasted to be spent in the U.S. Federal Budget for 2017, it cannot see its way to pay an annual obligation of $20 million to Antigua and Barbuda. That is just 0.00005 percent!
How can the country that claims “the regulation of cross-border gambling is a matter of public morality” turn its back on its moral obligation to a neighbour and long-time friend, especially in this time of need? It is beyond hypocrisy! 
For all of those who say that we should not rock the boat, remember, we are the victims, and we deserve justice. Allowing the United States to get off the hook and continue its bullying and hypocrisy simply victimises us again.
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.
 

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