Yesterday Reuters announced that European Commission had signed a bilateral agreement with the United States in Geneva that provides EU service providers with access to new trade opportunities as compensation for the US government unlawfully closing the US gambling market to foreign firms.

"A bilateral agreement was signed in Geneva, which provides EU service suppliers with new trade opportunities in the U.S. postal and courier, research and development, storage and warehouse sectors," the European Commission released in a statement.

"The U.S. also made concessions in the testing and analysis services sector," the commission added.

The entire issue was created little more than a year ago when laws passed in the United States Congress effectively banned foreign internet gaming firms from trading in America. Various online gaming firms submitted a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) claiming that the decision was illegal, especially in Antigua. In March of this year the WTO issued a final ruling upholding the gaming firms’ claim that the move was illegal. The WTO ruling said that the United States was breaking trade law by only targeting online gambling firms without equally applying the same rules to US firms who offer online betting on horse and dog racing.

During negotiations on how to settle the dispute, the authors of the final agreement reached a compensation package estimated at $100 billion. Gretchen Hamel, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representatives said the deal "involves commitments to maintain our liberalized markets for warehousing services, technical testing services, research and development services and postal services relating to outbound international letters."

The deal that was struck not only involved the EU, but Japan and Canada as well. Hamel declined to estimate how much the US market openings in the various sectors would actually amount to. The United States is currently pushing for a similar deal with India, Costa Rica, and Macao. If these countries decide not to negotiate with the US over the next 45 days they will have the option of asking the WTO to arbitrate.

In the meantime, Antigua and Barbados are still waiting on the WTO to make a decision regarding their request to impose $3.4 billion in commercial sanctions against the US. Antigua and Barbados are both pushing for the WTO to authorize a suspension of copyright protections on American movies, music, and software so its domestic manufacturers can export those products to America as well as other potential markets.

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