Antiguan Economy Hurting

Published on: January 12, 2009 

The current global recession is hurting economies all over the world and the home of online casino licensing is not escaping it.  Antigua and Barbuda are currently in economic disarray due to the recession, and the two countries are now seeking out loans in order to help create jobs and tackle the unemployment numbers that are increasing at an alarming rate.  The amount of money Antigua is trying to secure is around the same amount of money the country is owed by the United States.  The United States owes Antigua money for trade violations concerning the banning of online casino play in the country due to the passing of the UIGEA.  The United States government has been dragging their feet about paying their dues.

According to an Antiguan government spokesman, the country applied for a $30 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank in order to help the country.  The country is suffering severely from the lack of jobs and the rise of inflation in the country.  The spokesman also stated that Antiguan Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has been considering suspending income taxes, a drastic measure of its own that will help the poverty stricken citizens.  Currently income tax revenue brings in around $22 million annually to the island nation.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has been working for over a year to get Antigua the money the United States owes them.  The WTO found the United States in breach of free trade agreements after the UIGEA was passed in 2006 and banning its citizens from accessing foreign online gambling sites.  Antigua is the home base for most Internet casinos and the WTO passed a judgment that the United States government be punished with an annual payment of $21 million to Antigua due to the banning of casino sites.

American negotiators, however, have ignored many of the WTO deadlines that have been set to resolve how the payments would be made.  The office of United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab has consistently waited until the settlement dates were almost on them to even attempt to discuss the matter and the office has basically ignored and dismissed the WTO repayment order and anything else having to do with it.

Dr. Errol Cort, the Antiguan Finance Minister, has been an advocate for patience in the matter and he has continued to keep the dialog open with the United States regarding the repayment terms and settling the debt with the country.  $21 million is actually a small amount when compared to other programs that have been added into the government budget and if the United States went ahead and paid the debt, many citizens of Antigua would be able to escape the poverty they have been forced into.

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