Antigua and Barbuda will be renewing its negotiations with the United States on the controversial 2003 gaming dispute with hopes of reaching an acceptable solution with the US.
That is according to a release from the Office of the Prime Minister which stated that Prime Minister Gaston Browne has instructed Antigua’s Ambassador in Washington DC, Sir Ronald Sanders, to renew negotiations as early as possible with US agencies.
In 2003 authorities in the US applied measures which effectively shut down the lucrative online betting industry in the twin island state, and in 2007, the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization ruled that Antigua and Barbuda is entitled to receive US $21 million dollars annually from the United States as compensation after winning an arbitral award.
However that sum has never been paid and according to the release the amount now stands in excess of US$200 million.
The release states that President Barack Obama has said on more than one occasion that, in the conduct of international relations. “Might is not right”, and not because countries are small that larger ones “should just elbow them aside”.
In agreement with President Obama and with the culture of fairness that characterises the American people, it is indicated that the government will invoke those principles in the negotiations with the US agencies as two friendly countries with a history of cooperation and collaboration.
According to the government the matter has been drawn on for too long to the severe disadvantage of the people of Antigua and Barbuda. Therefore the matter must now be resolved and the Gaston Browne administration says it is prepared to pursue the remedies as authorized by the WTO in the interest of fairness.
During its last sitting Cabinet voiced disappointment on the recent proposal put forward by US Officials on WTO Settlement. As a result the Cabinet instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs to continue to intensify the negotiations and to report on any progress made.
The Government’s Chief of Staff Lionel Hurst also indicated that as a part of negotiations, the possibility is being discussed of having visa issuance being done on island so that citizens would not have to travel to the Embassy in Barbados to secure a Visa.