US team visit Antigua for online gambling talks

Antigua and Barbuda welcomed Deputy United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador John Veroneau yesterday, whose visit will focus on talks with the Caribbean nation’s Minister of Finance and the Economy, Dr Errol Cort, regarding the ongoing conflict over internet gambling between the two countries.

The dispute began in March 2003, when Antigua and Barbuda first expressed concern to the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the US government was taking actions to stifle their online gambling industry. The Caribbean nation won the preliminary ruling, but a number of appeals by the US has kept the issue in limbo ever since, despite rulings stating that certain aspects of their online laws are illegal and discriminatory. More recently, Antigua has retaliated by seeking authorization to ignore US patent and copyright laws, which would allow them to make internet piracy of US media legal. It has also been speculated that Dr John Ashe, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the WTO, will also take part in the talks.

A deadline had been set for 11th July for the deferral of the case at the WTO, but that date passed with little sign of a resolution. However, hopes are high that this meeting will yield more progress. “I think it is a positive sign that a very high-level US delegation is visiting Antigua and Barbuda to engage in these talks,” commented Dr Cort.

The talks are scheduled to continue into this afternoon.