Tuesday, May 08, 2007

This one is fun - and it'll give you some idea of the complexities of this particular world. Ok - short background. Several years ago the US started going after sportsbook operators in Antigua for violation of the Wire fraud act. The sportsbooks, with Antigua's backing, faced off against the US at the WTO. Long story short, they won.

Now here's where it gets interesting. What's happened - is that the US has declared 'oh, that was an oversight when we signed the agreement - we're going to revise that'

From another story: "Antigua's U.S.-based lead counsel, Mark Mendel, "There is simply no basis for such a statement. When the schedules were drawn up over ten years ago, there was extensive debate, proposal and counterproposal from all WTO members in determining what commitments would be made. More than a dozen countries were able to expressly exclude gambling from their commitments, and many dozens more excluded the commitment in other ways. For the United States to say this was a mistake is just not true."

Ok - big shock. The US is saying 'oh, the WTO is only something we want to abide by when it suits us'... very 'world court mining the harbors in nicaragua 1984 of them' -- not surprising from this administration really... is it? So other than the obvious 'this makes us look like sore losers and bad trading partners' and the precedent it sets for countries like China who'll get to pull the same stunt on us later (and man will they abuse us with our precedent) - here's how this approach could be very very bad for the US in purely short term financial terms - and i really don't think these jackasses realize how bad that could be. The US has just said to the world, 'we're taking gambling off the table... we know that means the rest of you might have lost a market opportunity... so line up and make your claim and we'll have to cut you a deal.'
Yes... that's right... the UK has lost billions of pounds of value in the AIM, and billions of dollars of potential revenue... they should make a claim. All of the Caribbean should make a claim - costa rica has lost tens of thousands of job since the UIGEA port security measure passed... but leading the pack will certainly be Antigua. The US is saying 'ok - go ahead - we'll pay the relief - how bad can it be' .

What is Antigua going to seek? Increased tariffs would only be a hardship on Antiguan citizens - and in those cases the international trade bodies have gone for solutions that address evening that playing field rather than imposing additional hardships on the suffering nation. The general consensus - Antigua is going to get to ignore US copyright and patent protection. I want you to think about that for a moment... is the current Anallubian administration really this stupid? The only thing we have is Movies, Music, Microcode, and High Speed Pizza Delivery.... they're not leaving us with much. Now imagine how bad that gets when other nations all get to line up at the trough too. They're basically saying 'fine - here's the checkbook... what is this going to cost me' - and in 2 years when this idiot legislation is overturned - we'll have already paid many many billions in IP that we wont be able to retrieve.

This is remarkably dumb - even for this administration.

No comments: