ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Antigua & Barbuda is not prepared to impose sanctions on the United States. Minister of Finance Harold Lovell said yesterday, referencing the country’s ongoing dispute with the United States over Internet gaming.
Lovell said on Voice of the People Thursday, that arbitration is the country’s preferred course of action.
“We have not sought to pursue the sanctions route. We have excellent relations with the United States of America and that is not a route that we have sought to go down. What we are now seeking to get, is a return to the arbitration table at the WTO,” he said.
Government recently attempted to resurrect the negotiations with the United States by a appealing to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSC) to mediate talks between the two countries.
In a letter to the WTO last week, Antigua & Barbuda requested that the dispute be put back on the agenda to be discussed monthly. This is being done in hopes of ensuring that the US is continuing its attempts to rectify the matter.
Lovell said in the past during the negotiations the US attempted to settle with Antigua & Barbuda for US $10 million as a settlement. However, government sought to add more terms to the settlement, including a US embassy on island.
“If we could get an embassy in Antigua that would help us because people would be travelling to Antigua. Small guesthouses and hotels would get work and create employment and would help to create Antigua as a hub. So we felt it was something we wanted to throw in the basket as part of the agreement.”
The minister said Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer raised the matter directly with President of the United States, Barack Obama, in a conversation at the Summit of the Americas in Columbia two weeks ago. He said the decisions between the two leaders were “at least exploratory.”
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