“We have lost all of that,” he said.
Antigua first challenged U.S. federal and state laws barring Internet gambling in 2003. The WTO then sided with it in 2004 and 2005. The United States, however, remained seemingly unfazed and even issued arrest warrants for American gambling operators in Antigua, which the country has refused to comply with, Simon said.
“We have been at the negotiating table with the department of trade [but] nothing has come out of it. We have made suggestion after suggestion and we’ve been told, ‘We’ll get back to you,’ ” Simon said. “So at this stage, we really think that we should begin to structurally prepare ourselves for implementing the recommendations dealing with intellectual property.”
Antigua isn’t the first country that has received the retaliation light from the WTO. In 2000, banana-growing nation Ecuador got the right to impose $202 million in sanctions against European goods after the European Union failed to reform its banana-import system.
In 2007, Brazil also announced that it was going after U.S. trademarks, patents and other intellectual property as part of a WTO ruling that the U.S. doled out illegal subsidies to American cotton growers.
In both cases, however, the countries were able to negotiate before having to enforce the sanctions, which observers say is very difficult to do. Even the WTO’s ruling, they note, is difficult to enforce, demonstrated by the number of years nations have been forced to wait for resolution.
Those realities aren’t lost on Simon, who concedes that he hopes the threat of losing copyright fees will compel the U.S. music and film industry to put pressure on U.S. government officials to settle the dispute.
“We are small, we are Third World, we are developing,” he said, acknowledging that while Antigua doesn’t have the economic prowess of Brazil, it still wants to be taken seriously.
“It is a fact that Brazil found itself in a very similar situation in respect to subsidies the U.S. gave to their domestic cotton producers,” he said. “Nothing happened until Brazil determined it was going to evoke its WTO-approved sanctions. Within a few months, the U.S. began settling with Brazil.”