ANTIGUA MEETS WITH WTO AND 3RD PARTY EU, JAPAN AND CHINA

18 October 2006

GAMBLING911
Gambling911.com News Wire
Originally published October 18, 2006 8:55 am ET

Antigua and Barbuda’s delegation to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), led by Ambassador Dr John Ashe and included Mark Mendel, Legal Adviser, and Elliott Paige, Minister Counselor, OECS Technical Mission to the WTO held consultations in Geneva on Tuesday with representatives from the European Commission, Japan and China, which are third Parties to its Internet gaming case against the United States. Briefing Sessions were also held with representatives from Brazil, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

“Now that both sides have filed their respective submissions to the WTO Panel that will hear our case against the US’ claim that it is “in compliance” with the rulings and recommendations of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, and with the October 23 deadline for submissions by third party Members of the WTO, these consultations with the third parties provide us with an important opportunity to address all aspects of our case,’ said the Honourable Dr. Errol Cort, who, in his capacity as Minister of Finance and the Economy, has substantive responsibility for this issue.

WTO Ambassador Dr. John Ashe echoed these sentiments when he noted that: “As one of the smallest WTO Members, economically and geographically speaking, my delegation is pleased with the ongoing interest and participation in this issue from two of the largest economic trading partners of the United States, namely Japan and the European Union.”

Kaye MacDonald, Director of Gaming, expressed her satisfaction with the involvement of third party WTO Members and praised their continued involvement in the uphill struggle against the United States. “Given the importance of the industry to our overall economy, we are pleased that the third parties, having examined the merits of our case, have decided to stay the course,” she said.

“From the outset, the US’s action in this case leaves a lot to be desired and recent US Congressional actions have, in my view, further compounded the apparent disregard for the WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism,” said the delegation’s Legal Adviser, Mark Mendel.

“Firstly, the US ignored the rulings and recommendations of the DSU. Then they argued for more time to implement the same recommendations they were ignoring. And finally, after been given a total of eleven months and two days to implement these rulings and recommendations by a WTO Arbitrator, they concluded that they were “in compliance” all along,” he said.

“Moral issues notwithstanding, the systemic issues raised by this case go to the fundamental raison d’etre of the WTO’s existence,” said Elliott Paige of the OECS’ Technical Mission to the WTO. “It would indeed be a very sad day for the WTO if the rulings and recommendations of its dispute settlement mechanism on matters of considerable economic importance to its smallest members, are completely ignored by its larger and more economically powerful members,” he added.

In addition to next week’s submissions by the third parties, the Panel is also expected to receive a rebuttal by Antigua and Barbuda on the US’ submission in three (3) weeks time. This will be followed by a rebuttal by the US some two (2) weeks later. The Panel will then convene its first hearing sometime in November and issue is final ruling in January/February 2007.

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