US gives Antigua stern warning over dispute

ST. JOHN’S — The US government yesterday warned of economic consequences after Antigua & Barbuda got World Trade Organisation approval to ignore US intellectual property rights to the tune of US $21 million annually.

“Government-authorised piracy would undermine chances for a settlement,” in the Internet gambling case,” said Nkenge Harmon, a spokeswoman for the US Trade Representative’s office.

“It also would serve as a major impediment to foreign investment in the Antiguan economy, particularly in high-tech industries,” Harmon said.

Antigua was first given the retaliatory right by a ruling of the WTO dispute settlement board in 2007, but chose to suspend the right pending negotiations.

Yesterday the country asked the WTO to activate the measure.

Dr. McChesney Emanuel, Chairman of the Antigua & Barbuda Investment Authority, said the US should stop trying to intimidate the country.

“The United States has indicated there could be possible adverse consequences for Antigua and its citizens for resorting to this WTO-sponsored remedy.

“We assume this is just rhetoric for public consumption, and we look forward to the United States putting aside these tactics and focusing their future efforts on thoughtful negotiation rather than on hyperbole and intimidation,” said Emanuel.

Antigua & Barbuda went to the WTO in 2003 when the US began blocking its citizens from using Internet gaming services based in the twin-island state.

The WTO ruled the US was in contravention to its obligations under the WTO treaty.

The WTO however can not force the US to honour the agreement and so instead allowed Antigua & Barbuda to hit back by ignoring US intellectual property rights. (Antigua Observer)

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