Antigua and Barbuda are well and truly sticking to their word regarding placing sanctions against the US due to their ongoing dispute. Antigua Finance Minister Harold Lovell sent out a clear message via the associated press that sanctions, barring a last second deal, would be imposed as soon as possible, with Mr Lovell informing the World Trade Organisation exactly what these sanctions are the week beginning 17th December.
Background to The Dispute
The US, who frequently use the WTO in settling international trade issues has blatantly ignored several rulings made in Antigua's favor since the initial ruling was made in 2007. Antigua argue that the US refuses to allow Antigua based gambling companies fair access to the American market and demanded this be changed. An order was placed by the WTO for the US to compensate Antigua $21 Million per year and now owes over $100 Million to the tiny nation, but as yet has been forthcoming neither with the funds or any comments on the dispute. Part of the ruling states that Antigua has permission to collect the funds by other means, effectively meaning that they can if they wished disregard any US copyright on films, music and other creative works, however they have yet to do so.
The Current Situation
The Finance Minister states that he is in no way looking for further dispute with the mighty US, only for them to abide by the rulings that have been put in place by the WTO, as many nations have had to when rulings have been made in their favor. He further states that at its' peak the gaming industry in Antigua was a major employer and provided income for some 3000 people and that this number is now down to 400 because of the actions of the US. He is quoted as saying "We have basically been driven over our fiscal cliff, we feel that we really have had our backs pushed right up against the wall". He points to the fact that the US is threatening China with the WTO due to copyright infringement and finds it ironic that they will use the services and powers of the organisation yet fail to abide by its' orders. The dispute will clearly continue for some time and it will be interesting to see what sanctions Antigua impose, whilst many neutral observers are frowning upon the US due to its' somewhat ignorant approach to the whole situation.