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Antigua and Barbuda’s PM address at CARICOM meeting

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Winston Baldwin Spencer says Antigua and Barbuda may have to take sanctions against the United States on the longstanding internet gaming trade dispute. The country’s leader issued a statement from Jamaica where he is attending the annual Caricom heads of government meeting which ends on Wednesday July 7, 2010.

The Prime Minister says the matter was raised at the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on external negotiations during the discussion on the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism. Spencer said the internet gaming case was cited as a clear example of the difficulties small countries encounter in getting justice from WTO rulings. He noted that since the WTO ruled in Antigua and Barbuda’s favour back in 2007, the United States has failed to comply. The Prime Minister added that the government has sought to secure a negotiated settlement with the U.S.

Spencer said that while Antigua and Barbuda has the right to impose sanctions against the U.S in keeping with the WTO rules, the country remains committed to exhausting all possibilities for a negotiated settlement. He articulated that the country may have no other alternative but to signal to the WTO that it wishes to impose sanctions as the country is fast running out of options.

CARICOM and the heads of government have supported Antigua and Barbuda from the inception. The Prime Minister says he and his colleagues will discuss the necessary course of action to reach a settlement with the United States.

Spencer believes there is need for urgent reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism especially relating to enforcement of its rulings. He adds that Antigua and Barbuda is seeking an urgent meeting with President Barrack Obama to settle the matter.

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