Update about Antigua and WTO
The NYT reports on WTO and Antigua:
In an unusual ruling on Friday at the World Trade Organization, the Caribbean nation of Antigua won the right to violate copyright protections on goods like films and music from the United States — an award worth up to $21 million — as part of a dispute between the countries over online gambling.
The award follows a W.T.O. ruling that Washington had wrongly blocked online gambling operators on the island from the American market at the same time it allowed online wagering on horse racing.
Antigua and Barbuda had claimed damages of $3.44 billion a year. That makes the relatively small amount awarded Friday, $21 million, something of a setback for Antigua, which had been struggling to preserve its gambling industry.
The United States argued that its behavior had caused $500,000 damage.
Yet the ruling is significant in that it grants a rare form of compensation: the right of one country, in this case Antigua, to violate intellectual property laws of another — the United States — by allowing it to distribute copies of American music, movie and software products.
In May, the United States said it was rewriting its trade rules to remove gambling from the jurisdiction of the W.T.O.
Washington has agreed on deals with the European Union, Canada and Japan to change the treaty but not with several other nations, including Antigua.
On Friday, the United States trade representative issued a stern warning to Antigua to avoid acts of piracy, counterfeiting or violations of intellectual property rights while talks continue.
The trade office said such behavior would “undermine Antigua’s claimed intentions of becoming a leader in legitimate electronic commerce, and would severely discourage foreign investment” in the country.
There has been a lot of discussion on blogs about the ramifications of the rulings:
1. The potential impact (or not) on sovereignty over restrictions on trade for ‘moral’ concerns.
2. The impact on the status of local and state law as regards ‘national treatment’.
3. How sanctions could be implemented in a workable manner.
There are far bigger concerns in other trade areas, but the EU is watching closely as well.