by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
January 9, 2009
The notion that U.S. Trade Representatives had reached a deal with Antigua that relieved the nation of a prior settlement, reported as fact by the Salt Lake Tribune, was found to be inaccurate. An article of December 26th, written by Cathy Mckitrick, told readers that the latest WTO negotiations ended in a settlement agreement on damages owed to Antigua in banning offshore online casino. This is not entirely true, however, as Mckitrick’s sources were more than a year old.
The article claimed the deal was not announced publicly because the U.S. had dubbed it a national security issue, and referred to comments made by Peter Riggs of the Forum on Democracy and Trade, wherein he shunned Trade Representatives for keeping it secret. In turn, the article caused much speculation that a military base was to be built in Antigua in lieu of a $21 million settlement.
“In 2007, Antigua and Barbuda sought the ability to violate U.S. intellectual-property law in exchange for these restrictions.
Instead, the U.S. trade representative negotiated a different agreement, with concessions that have not been released due to "national security" concerns.”
An additional editorial was published in the Salt Lake Tribune on January 5th, which continued to report on the outdated trade agreement, as though it were current and relevant to the latest trade negotiations. Online Casino Advisory reports, however, that after researching the matter, their team was unable to confirm that this was true.
The team later contacted Mckitrick, who cited sources that were over a year old, and concerned an entirely separate matter between the U.S. and the European Union. The quote published from Peter Riggs had in fact, not pertained to Antigua at all. Had the article reported on the EU, rather than Antigua, it would have been factual, as the last WTO dispute ended in an undisclosed settlement. The EU is next in line for further WTO negotiations, however.
The article has caused the inaccuracy to be published in many media outlets – in online casino forums and international newspapers, including the Antigua Sun. Several attempts were made to gain insight as to why Mckitrick did not properly check her facts, but have so far been unsuccessful.
Online Casino Advisory reports, “This was brought to Mckitrick's attention, but no retraction nor correction was forthcoming. Instead, as noted about the editorial, the Tribune continued to act as if the initial story had been flawless. Meanwhile, as reports continued to wind around the Internet, the Antigua Sun wrote about the possibility of an undisclosed deal.”
Mark Mendel, a legal representative for Antigua in the WTO negotiations has assured that no settlement has been reached, and that Antigua is still determined to collect on the $21 million that was promised, and to which several deadlines have not been met. Mendel claims that he does not trust the source of the rumors. It is uncertain how long the negotiations will continue, or whether they will extend into the upcoming U.S. administration.