The Star (St. Lucia) - Business Week - - NEWS RELEASE -

Fif­teen years af­ter An­tigua and Bar­buda won the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WTO) ar­bi­tra­tion against the United States, the Car­ib­bean coun­try’s Prime Min­is­ter Gas­ton Browne lamented that the na­tion is still wait­ing on the bil­lions of dol­lars in dam­ages yet to be paid.

Af­ter build­ing up an In­ter­net gam­bling in­dus­try to re­place de­clin­ing tourism rev­enues, An­tigua and Bar­buda was shut out of the world’s big­gest gam­bling mar­ket.

The twin-is­land na­tion took its case to the WTO in 2003, even­tu­ally win­ning the right to com­pen­sa­tion of $21 mil­lion an­nu­ally, af­ter the WTO judges up­held its com­plaint that U.S. laws were dis­crim­i­na­tory.

Speak­ing at the re­cent United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly, Browne noted that the WTO is not a per­fect mech­a­nism in solv­ing trade dis­putes. He added that the body can­not en­force its rul­ings, and An­tigua and Bar­buda con­tin­ues to wait for an ac­cept­able set­tle­ment.

“The U.S. econ­omy is 20,000 times larger than An­tigua and Bar­buda’s. Com­pen­sa­tion for the in­jury to my small coun­try is less than 0.008 per cent of one year of the U.S.’s GDP. The in­jury that was done to my coun­try now amounts to 20 per cent of its GDP. No coun­try can eas­ily ab­sorb that se­vere blow which hurts our econ­omy, sets back our in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment and con­strains the pro­vi­sions of em­ploy­ment and ad­vances in health and ed­u­ca­tion,” Browne said.

The prime min­is­ter said that the abil­ity of the peo­ple of his small is­land na­tion to sur­vive this or­deal, while con­tin­u­ing to thrive, speaks vol­umes to their re­silience.

He added that the dis­cus­sions about global fi­nan­cial re­form should not be cen­tred only around a few world lead­ers.

Dur­ing the ad­dress to the 73rd Gen­eral Assem­bly, Browne called for the in­clu­sion of all United Na­tions mem­ber-states.

He said that only a few priv­i­leged na­tions are mak­ing de­ci­sions that im­pact the liveli­hoods of bil­lions.

“Ar­bi­trary rules set by un­rep­re­sen­ta­tive bod­ies for their own nar­row pur­poses have no le­git­i­macy in the world. En­force­ment of those ar­bi­trary rules by threat and sanc­tions of the mighty is not le­git­i­mate; it re­sults only in grum­bling and re­luc­tant ac­qui­es­cence that lacks en­dur­ing sup­port. Might by en­forcers does not make ac­tions right,” Browne added.

He noted that the Gen­eral Assem­bly must be re­vi­talised if it is to make any im­por­tant mark on the peo­ple of the world.

The prime min­is­ter also warned that un­less the Gen­eral Assem­bly is made rel­e­vant, the ac­tions of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and of other or­gan­i­sa­tions will be en­dured but not em­braced.

“I hereby make the call once again for a rein­vig­o­rated and rel­e­vant United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly. I recog­nise that it would not serve the in­ter­ests of the pow­er­ful who fear the ex­pres­sion of dis­sent and the call for po­lit­i­cal rights that many of them de­mand in other coun­tries,” he said.

Prime Min­is­ter of An­tigua & Bar­buda Mr. Gas­ton Browne ad­dress­ing the 73rd Ses­sion of the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly. Browne em­pha­sized that a few priv­i­leged na­tions are mak­ing de­ci­sions that im­pact the lives of bil­lions of peo­ple, not­ing that the Gen­eral Assem­bly must be re­vi­talised to be­come a place for ac­tion and re­sults

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