Antiuga and Barbuda confronts USA over trade dispute

Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the OAS. ©Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has today told the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it is contemplating a request to the Director-General to appoint a mediator in its 15-year contention with the United States.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador Sir Ronald Sanders  told the WTO body that “after a long period of exhausting attempts to engage the United States, Antigua and Barbuda is now contemplating approaching the Director-General under the DSU provisions to join in seeking a mediated solution that would bring much needed relief after these arduous 15 years of damage to our economy”.

Sanders told the WTO member states that Antigua and Barbuda feels disadvantaged by the United States whose violation of the General Agreement on Trade in Services “has caused trade losses of US$315 million to Antigua and Barbuda’s small economy over the last 15 years”.

The Ambassador pointed out that while the losses to Antigua and Barbuda are significant, “it does not total 0.1 per cent of one year of the GDP of the United States”. He emphasized that “the economy of the United States is 20,000 times larger than Antigua and Barbuda’s”.

Explaining Antigua and Barbuda’s position, Sanders said “Antigua and Barbuda has an obligation not only to itself, but to all other nations who uphold the principles and rules of the WTO and look to it for justice. We act in the interest of all”.

In response, the US delegate said that the US had offered the Government of Antigua and Barbuda “creative and generous settlements in 2008 and 2013” that were declined. He added that the US continues to be interested in negotiations with Antigua and Barbuda and discouraged mediation by the WTO Director-General.

Ambassador Sanders replied that the US offers had been declined because they did not total even one percent of the losses experienced by Antigua and Barbuda.

Delegations from Barbados, Jamaica, Cuba, Venezuela and Dominica, speaking for all members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, supported Antigua and Barbuda. No country spoke in support of the United States.

The DSB took note of the discussion which remains open on its agenda.

The Antigua and Barbuda delegation included Joy-Marie King, Director of International Trade in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

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