The little island that could, Antigua and Barbuda succeeded in presenting a case against the USA for withdrawing its gambling business from the island, and the World Trade Organization ruled in Antigua’s favor. Now the heat is on to determine if Antigua’s $3.4 billion compensation claim will be ratified by the WTO on the announced date of November 30.

This arbitration panel was set in motion after the USA responded to Antigua’s claim with an offer of only $500,000, with the argument that $3.4 billion was more than Antigua’s entire economy. Mendel retaliated by informing the panel that gambling companies were not required by Antiguan law to declare their profits, and that most chose not to in order to avoid prosecution form the USA.The WTO panel may not ratify the entire $3.4 billion claim, but it is expected that they will sanction the USA with more than a $500,000 fine.

Mark Mendel, Antigua’s representative in front of the WTO, declared yesterday to the Antigua Sun that the arbitration panel is due to rule on November 30th regarding the size of the sanction that the USA will have to fulfill. The WTO panel will also indicate if Antigua may exact that compensation through suspension of USA intellectual property rights.

Mendel also told the Antigua Sun that he feels confident that the arbitration process is going well for Antigua and Barbuda, declaring: “We are in very good shape. This arbitration is proceeding nicely and we’ve done a very good job.”

He also admitted that Antigua is not going to impose the sanctions at once, but rather take their time to work it to their best advantage: “We haven’t fully and completely flushed out precisely what we’re going to do or how we’re going to do it. There is no rush to do it. I think once we get it, it’ll be a pretty big weapon in our hands and we can take our time in deciding how to apply it.” In case the WTO rules in Antigua’s favor, the government will have to make major policy decisions regarding the status of USA’s intellectual property in the country, and it is expected that the gaming industry – the sector most affected by USA’s gambling ban – will be invited to participate in this decision-making process.

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