by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
January 10, 2009
Despite the numerous amount of online casinos licensed an operated in Antigua and Barbuda, the two nations are facing the same economic recession as the U.S. Similarly, the country’s leaders have asked for loans to create a more fruitful work environment. What has Antigua in an uproar, however, is that the settlement agreed upon by the U.S. – that has yet to be paid – would more than cover the sought after loan.
The World Trade Organization ruled some time ago that the U.S. pay Antigua $21 million in damages caused when the U.S. placed a ban on offshore internet casino gambling. Although several deadlines have come and gone in the year since the ruling was made, the U.S. has continually failed to pay its dues. Every time that a deadline would pass, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab would initiate negotiations with the country, rather than pay out on its debt. The rumors that the U.S. would build a military base to compensate for this debt were found to be untrue.
A spokesperson claims on behalf of Antigua that the country has applied for a $30 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank to create more jobs and boost the economy. The financial crisis has apparently reached to a level of severity that may cause Prime Minister Baldwin Spenser to suspend income tax in order to bailout the island residents.
When one considers the U.S. national debt, and the money thrown away on needless endeavors, such as the space program, $21 million does not amount to much. The stubbornness of the current administration in refusing to pay its debt to Antigua has caused countless people suffering and impoverished conditions.
It is hoped that Schwab’s successor, Ron Kirk, will put an end to the charade. Kirk has always encouraged free trade to flourish in his legislative history. “Trade has been one of the only bright sports for the U.S. economy, and the Obama team is going to needy every tool in its tool box,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President, John Murphy.
Millions of Americans owe their jobs to the U.S.’s ability to sell goods and services overseas or vice versa. In North Texas, where Kirk served as a mayor in Dallas, 425 foreign-operated businesses and multinational corporations account for more than 250,000 jobs. Many of these positions are the result of the international free trade agreement, which made it easier for Canada, the U.S. and Mexico to trade products and services. The payment to Antigua is not only vital to that nation’s survival, but to its own in terms of maintaining a healthy relationship with offshore trade markets. Additionally, the prospect of an legalized online casino market may prevent another WTO dispute, wherein it becomes the responsibility of the U.S. to pay for a failing economy.
In the next four years, Kirk’s negotiation and political skills will be put to the test. Antigua’s Finance Minister, Dr. Errol Cort, has exhibited an enormous amount of endurance throughout the negotiation process, asking for his people to have patience even during such economic turmoil.