WTO Ruling: The U.S. Lost Again. What are the best remedies?

An article by Hartley Henderson for Majar Wagar talks about yet another case where the US has lost a WTO case, but seems likely to ignore the ruling. Fortunately there is discussion of what to do as a punishment against the USA, something that the Canadian government didn't seem to want to follow through with.

Furthermore, countries may also be interested to see what can be done against the United States in a case where the U.S. ignores rulings. There has been much talk that under the rules of the WTO, Antigua may be able to override U.S. copyright laws and intellectual property rights in an effort to enforce compliance.

This is more important to the USA than people might realize. If you look at the World Mapper based on Royalty Fees you will see that over half (53%) of the value of all royalty and license fees paid in 2002 were received in the United States. I have also heard many times that the USA has two major trade surpluses: intangibles (primarily royalties) and weapons.

This is why I have been disappointed with our federal government who didn't tie adherence with the softwood lumber decision with PCT issues, telling the USA that it would allow Canadians to ignore US copyright until the US obeyed the decision. Rather than go this direction, the Canadian government has instead said it would ratify the 1996 WIPO treaties which are only going to increase our trade deficits with the USA by favouring those business models for the production, distribution and funding of knowledge which are dominated by US firms.

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The USA's arrogance & the WTO

It was big news in the online gaming world. Antigua bested the US in a
case brought before the World Trade Organization (WTO). The US appealed
and still the WTO ruled against them. Although the US assured the WTO
they would comply, they have yet to do so. Ron Z. Mendelson, director
of OffshoreXplorer.com, had this to say, "Not only has the US failed to
comply with the WTO ruling, they seem to have gone the other way. They
have even gone so far as to arrest foreign citizens on US soil on
charges that relate to the online gaming industry."

With the US failing to implement the changes required by the WTO, they
have now asked for help from the WTO with regards to a dispute between
them and China. The US feels China is imposing charges that unfairly
discriminate against imported auto parts and that they are in violation
of their WTO obligations. This sounds very much like the charges
brought against the US in their dispute with Antigua.

"The question is," says Mendelson, "why does the US think they can
ignore a ruling made against them and then expect aid in a similar case
when they feel they have been the ones who were wronged. It seems as
thought they want to have their cake and eat it too."

It is clear that the US has its own agenda when it comes to the online
gaming industry. However, it seems that they are not willing to respect
a system that has been set up to help ensure fair and equitable trade
across international borders. It seems they are only interested in the
rulings of the WTO when it is to their benefit. When it isn't, it is
simply ignored.

There is always the option of revoking the US WTO membership
altogether, but considering the US is the foremost international trader
in the world this is hardly the answer to the problem. It would be more
beneficial to get the point across by requiring the US to meet all the
obligations set forth by the WTO and settles once and for all the
conditions resulting from the dispute with Antigua. Until this happens,
they should not be given aid in their own dispute with China. Let them
show their respect for the WTO and the global community in order to
prove they are worthy of the aid they have requested. Otherwise, they
will only receive the message that they are free to use and abuse the
WTO's rulings, recommendations, and regulations and this hardly seems
fair.



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