The WTO held a hearing this week in Geneva. The purpose of the hearing was to determine fair compensation concerning the claims against the US by Antigua and Barbuda over the UIGEA. Since the WTO already ruled against the US, and Washington refused to comply, the case just keeps dragging on. So, it should come as no surprise that another delay has been announced by the US Trade Representative's Office.
There were high hopes a settlement would have been reached on Monday, with some sort of resolution close at hand. Unfortunately, the online poker community will now have to wait until December 14th to see if any agreement is reached. That is the date all nations involved are expected to come to a "reasonable solution".
Gretchen Hamel, spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative said, "Each negotiation is proceeding at its own pace, and some are quite advanced. However, we have agreed to extend the negotiation period for all claimants. In order to provide all parties with sufficient time to reach a successful resolution, the United States and the claimants have jointly agreed that these negotiations should be extended until December 14, 2007."
With all the delays, and the US already in non-compliance mode, there is no limit to how long it could take until this matter is resolved. Just because the WTO reaches what it considers a fair compensation settlement, doesn't mean the other parties involved will agree with them. That could mean appeals and more delays.
By initially refusing to comply, Uncle Sam may have really shot himself in the foot.
The WTO frowns on nations who are in non-compliance of their rulings, as they should. Then to further ruffle the WTO's feathers, Washington decided to change its General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). By doing this, the US has opened the door for all WTO members to file claims against the US. Each nation could now file a claim for what they consider fair compensation, due to the passage of the UIGEA. These claims could end up being in the billions and billions of dollars.
The best resolution for those who play online would be for the US to rethink their position on the whole UIGEA matter. Hopefully if Washington is faced with trade sanctions and huge claims to pay out, someone on Capitol Hill will open their eyes.