Once again, the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is calling for action against what it claims are U.S. violations of World Trade Organization regulations on Internet action. This time, in light of the severe consequences American business has had on the Antiguan economy, the Caribbean country is threatening sanctions against the United States.
The online gambling sector in Antigua and Barbuda has been regulated by the government for 15 years and is now essential to the country’s economy. In the past five years, this sector has shrunk in income by nearly 50% and the country’s largest bank was closed by U.S. federal agents in February 2009 based on American gambling laws.
The current complaint Antigua has against the U.S. government goes back to 2007 when the WTO, in accordance with a European Commission report, called current laws in the U.S. regarding gambling unfair to international competition. The U.S. has since ignored Antiguan overtures to negotiate the issue.
In the meantime, due to the “obvious unwillingness of the United States to reach a negotiated settlement that takes into account the contribution of the sector to the economic well-being of Antigua and Barbuda,” Antigua prime minister Baldwin Spencer took its complaint to the Conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, which supported Antigua in the matter.
This week, Spencer stated his new plan to seek sanctions “if Washington continues to thwart efforts at finding a negotiated solution” and has openly called for a meeting with U.S. president Barack Obama on the issue.