A Los Angeles Times piece on the protracted World Trade
Organization dispute between the United States and Antigua & Barbuda
contains some quotes that are for once actually worthy of the Trump-favored
epithet ‘fake news’.
On Monday, the Times posted a lengthy and largely accurate
article on the 14-year US v. Antigua dispute, focusing on the fact that the
hurricane-ravaged island of Barbuda is in desperate need of the over $200m the
WTO has authorized Antigua to collect from the US due to the latter nation’s
refusal to honor its international trade obligations regarding Antigua-licensed
online gambling operators.
After quoting Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne
detailing American hypocrisy regarding its trade obligations and America’s
nonsensical moral arguments regarding gambling in general, the Times quoted
Roosevelt Institute fellow Todd Tucker arguing that the US had “a good legal
case for disregarding the WTO decision.”
Leaving aside the fact that the US is the single most
prolific filer of WTO complaints and thus isn’t really in a position to pick
and choose which rulings it chooses to comply with, Tucker goes on to argue
that “a lot of anti-gambling activists and religious groups agree with”
America’s decision to ignore the ruling on Antigua’s online gambling industry.
Frankly, if US trade policy is to be based on what some
religious groups and single-issue lobbyists prefer, then America should cease
all trade with any number of ‘godless’ nations, although that would mean
falling even further behind China on the world’s economic stage.
Tucker’s inane justifications don’t stop there, as he also
claims America is within its rights to withhold any payments to Antigua because
online gambling operators would claim “75%” of any settlement monies.
Tucker claims to have this info straight from Antiguan
authorities, but he clearly hasn’t made any such inquiries in three years. Such
a scenario might have been plausible under Antigua’s former administration, but
PM Browne cleaned house after he was elected in 2014, making it clear that the
industry-led team pursuing WTO justice had never formally represented Antigua’s
Regardless, if this unfounded fear is what’s keeping the US
from honoring its WTO obligations, then it could easily place restrictions on
the ultimate destination of any payments made to Antigua. Browne’s government
would surely have no objections if it meant the arrival of these long-delayed
payments, which are desperately needed to help Barbuda rebuild.
While it’s good to see Antigua’s David v. Goliath struggle
against the US finally getting some favorable mainstream US press exposure, one
would expect a more substantial vetting of the ‘post-truth’ claims of those who
would seek to preserve America’s ‘might = right’ trade policy.