Power of Story
Send a Tweet        
- Advertisement -
Refresh  
Exclusive to OpEdNews:
OpEdNews Op Eds

Antigua and Barbuda's Message for America: "Pay Me What You Owe Me"

By       Message Sean Bennett     Permalink
      (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Interesting 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 10/13/17

From flickr.com: Marathon Florida Destruction After Hurricane Irma {MID-175411}
Marathon Florida Destruction After Hurricane Irma
(Image by CBP Photography)
  Permission   Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -

The U.S. has offered rebuilding assistance to Barbuda, a Caribbean island that was left devastated by Hurricane Irma. The devastation wrought by the storm left the island with no permanent population for the first time in over three hundred years. Yet even faced with the sheer scale of the wipeout, and hobbled by damages that make up more than 20% of its GDP, the nation of Antigua and Barbuda is holding firm and is providing a lesson to the world on how to keep the moral high ground in the face of tragedy.

Indeed, while Washington's offer was well received, Barbuda has one unalterable condition; the U.S. must pay the $273 million debt that the World Trade Organization (WTO) says it owes to the small Caribbean nation. The island state's ambassador to the U.S., Ronald Sanders, hopes that the debt -- a sum that accrued during a 14-year dispute over America's unfair restrictions on online gambling -- can assist in the reconstruction of Barbuda.

The ambassador's pointed response is understandable given the conditions in Barbuda, which is still without electricity and potable water. With up to 95% of Barbuda's infrastructure destroyed by the Category 5 storm, it is estimated that the rebuilding effort will cost somewhere in the realm of $250 million to $300 million. After witnessing the damage first hand, the U.N. Secretary General, António Guterres, has urged the international community to assist in the monumental task of rebuilding Barbuda. "I've just witnessed a level of devastation that I've never seen in my life," he said after surveying the damage in Codrington.

What Does Online Betting Have to Do with Rebuilding Barbuda?

- Advertisement -

In the years since the Internet entered the public domain, Antigua and Barbuda spearheaded the development of online gambling, an industry that quickly became a crucial sector in the country's economy. By 1995, Antigua and Barbuda had drafted and ratified the Free Trade & Processing Act, an investment and legislative framework that allowed online casino licensing. As a result, online gaming quickly grew into a lucrative source of revenue and jobs for the tiny Caribbean islands. However, the nation's burgeoning economic growth was cut short when the U.S. began enforcing strict measures restricting online gambling.

As Antigua and Barbuda's market share of the online gambling industry shrunk, the island state initiated proceedings with WTO, alleging that America's prohibition of cross-border gambling was in violation of the General Agreement on Trades and Services. In 2007, the body ruled against the U.S. and awarded Antigua and Barbuda a backdated payout of $21 million per year. But the U.S. -- a country that has long regarded itself as the champion of global norms and institutions -- virtually ignored the verdict.

In 2013, after years of non-compliance, the WTO took unprecedented steps to induce American cooperation. Specifically, the WTO gave Antigua and Barbuda full reign over U.S intellectual property, allowing the Caribbean state to legally distribute American films, books, TV shows, music and photographs without compensating the people and business that own the property. Although Antigua and Barbuda hasn't made use of the WTO-approved content piracy scheme, the WTO's decision continues to have profound repercussions on relations between the two countries. If the U.S. continues ignoring its debt obligations, 'cross retaliation' might be the only way that Antigua and Barbuda can challenge U.S. noncompliance.

- Advertisement -

To get an idea of what the online gambling industry could have become in Antigua and Barbuda, look no further than the extraordinary economic success of Malta -- a regional hub for online gambling, iGaming and e-sports. The online gambling industry, which makes up 12 percent of Malta's GDP, has reinvigorated Malta's economy, kick-starting a flourishing digital and financial services sector as well as providing employment opportunities for more than 9000 people. The Mediterranean nation's success stems as well from its strong consumer safeguards, which has encouraged many companies to set up shop there. Now, Antigua and Barbuda, still recovering from the devastation of one of two major islands, is in dire need of similar socioeconomic enrichment.

As Antigua and Barbuda assess the ruins left in Irma's wake, Washington's continued recalcitrance is quickly framing the U.S. as a miserly bully -- ignoring WTO decisions and refusing to pay what it owes. For the WTO, the debt dispute is quickly becoming a test of the organization's ability to obtain justice for small nations when powerful nations refuse to cooperate. Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, has called America and the WTO to task, saying: "How can it be that the United States, the most powerful economy and county in the world, can so blatantly disregard the very trade rules that it demands be observed by other countries?"

As long as the debt dispute continues, there are no winners: Antigua and hurricane-wracked Barbuda face the prospect of economic retrenchment, America's international reputation will continue to suffer; and the WTO's institutional efficacy may be called into question. Nevertheless, domestic developments in America may yet yield positive results for Antigua and Barbuda's economy. With more and more states moving to legalize online gambling, the federal government's anti-gambling measures are quickly losing support. Now, Brandt Iden, a Michigan State Representative has hinted that Michigan may be joining Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware in legalizing online gambling.

As the online gambling sector -- an international industry and important source of government revenue -- continues to grow, the pressure on the federal government will only get worse. Describing Barbuda as "barely habitable," Prime Minister Browne has made it clear that Antigua and Barbuda need this process to pick up speed. With the country's economy hamstrung, there is only so long that Antigua can support the desperate and displaced population of Barbuda.

- Advertisement -

 

- Advertisement -

Interesting 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

I'm an expert in development economics and trade issues currently working in Washington DC.

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon



Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Antigua and Barbuda's Message for America: "Pay Me What You Owe Me"

Comments Image Post Article Comment

These discussions are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves, and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. In accordance with our Guidelines and Policies, we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms.

  • OpEdNews welcomes lively, CIVIL discourse. Personal attacks and/or hate speech are not tolerated and may result in banning.
  • Comments should relate to the content above. Irrelevant, off-topic comments are a distraction, and will be removed.
  • By submitting this comment, you agree to all OpEdNews rules, guidelines and policies.
Connect with Facebook     Connect with Twitter            Register with Facebook     Register with Twitter

Comment:   

You can enter 2000 characters. To remove limit, please click here.

Please login or register. Afterwards, your comment will be published.
 
Username
Password

Forgot your password? Click here and we will send an email to the address you used when you registered.
First Name
Last Name

I am at least 16 years of age
(make sure username & password are filled in. Note that username must be an email address.)

3 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments  Post Comment


BFalcon

Become a Fan
Author 28059

(Member since Dec 20, 2008), 17 fans, 3 articles, 13886 comments


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


  New Content

I love Barbuda but "America's unfair restrictions on online gambling"?

Submitted on Friday, Oct 13, 2017 at 4:46:00 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

Allan Wayne

Become a Fan
Author 21546
Follow Me on Twitter
(Member since Sep 9, 2008), 8 fans, 85 articles, 18 quicklinks, 1129 comments, 105 diaries


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


  New Content

You mean basically the US restricted citizens from using credit cards to gamble illegally in other countries?

Gambling is pretty regulated in the US, and people can be pretty much ripped off, online.

Submitted on Friday, Oct 13, 2017 at 7:07:00 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

David William Pear

Become a Fan Follow Me on Twitter

(Member since Nov 29, 2014), 40 fans, 49 articles, 221 quicklinks, 2566 comments


Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


  New Content

First the US never pays unless it wants to, it considers itself exceptional. Nicaragua successfully sued the US for war reparations many years ago. Nor has the US ever paid reparations to Vietnam for killing 3 million people and bombing them back to the stone age.

Second, this lawsuit before the WTO shows how ridiculous the WTO and trade deals are. They usurp national sovereignty that protects the people, as well as protects corporations from the people. i.e. anti-gambling laws, drug laws, health regulations, environmental regulations, antitrust, etc.

This is the whole point of fighting against so-called phony 'free trade agreements'. WTO, TPP, NAFTA, etc can come up with some weird results sometimes, and bad results most of the time.

Submitted on Friday, Oct 13, 2017 at 10:57:13 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment