Wednesday, December 26, 2007

U.S. Ordered by WTO to Pay $21 Million in Compensation for U.S. Internet Gambling Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. The World Trade Organization (WTO) announcement today that the U.S. must pay $21 million in compensation for the U.S. ban on Internet gambling is the latest stark example of how U.S. trade agreements can undermine a wide array of domestic policies unrelated to trade, Public Citizen said today.

“Americans just got a harsh wake-up call about the price of ‘trade’ agreements and entities such as the WTO that require us to conform all of our domestic policies to hundreds of pages of rules unrelated to trade that were pushed by global corporations behind closed doors in 1994,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division. “This ruling shows once again that the WTO’s incredible overreach and interference with domestic policy is a serious threat to Democratic policy-making and national sovereignty.”

Today’s announcement that the U.S. must pay the Caribbean nation of Antigua to compensate for gambling revenue Antigua lost because of the U.S. Internet gambling ban is the latest step in a WTO challenge Antigua launched in 2003. In 2005, a WTO Appellate Body issued a final ruling against the U.S. that implicated wide swaths of U.S. gambling policy extending beyond the Internet gambling ban. Under WTO rules, a losing country must bring its policy into compliance with WTO rules by a set deadline or face trade sanctions. When the U.S. did not change its laws as ordered by the WTO, Antigua brought a compliance case. In March 2007, the U.S. lost that case, and Antigua was authorized to begin imposing sanctions. Antigua’s lawyers raised the option of lifting Antiguan compliance with WTO copyright rules relating to U.S. music and software.........

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