New USTR To Improve Gambling Relations
March 17, 2009
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Very soon America will have a new US Trade Representative (USTR). President Barack Obama has nominated former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk for the post. Kirk was the first African American mayor of Dallas and is also set to become the first African American trade representative of the United States.
In the Senate confirmation hearings Kirk has said that if his nomination is approved he will enforce global trade rules strictly. He said, “This [Obama] administration’s starting point on trade will be to ensure the strongest possible enforcement of existing rules and increase the transparency of current and future trade agreements.” He added that his objective is not to total up a long list of deals just for the numbers game.
His predecessor, Susan Schwab, will be leaving him with a mess to sort out, at least where online gambling is concerned. During her regime the USTR office had lost legal tussles at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to a small nation like Antigua and Barbuda. It had refused to honor the penalties levied on it by the WTO and instead decided to opt out of the WTO mechanism. Even when Antigua had indicated that it was willing to compromise and settle issues bilaterally the USTR officers had come to meetings unprepared and sought extensions. In the case with the European Union it had not even allowed the process to be initiated. Schwab’s report card reads a big zero and things can only get better when Kirk steps in.
Despite this Schwab’s parting statement is all praise for her work. She said that under her new markets were opened, trade agreements were enforced and the trade of goods and services was conducted in a transparent and fair manner. She said that she is leaving behind a strong and robust organization. As expected there is no mention of online gambling or Antigua or any related issue. She also lauded Kirk’s nomination hoped that he carried forward the good work that she had begun. Schwab said, “As a former mayor of Dallas, which is a major hub of international business, he understands the importance of trade.”
Kirk’s first task in the arena of online gambling will be to clear things up with Antigua and Barbuda and the European Union. He will be walking a tight rope because it is unlikely that the Obama administration will take a call on the legality of online gambling within the United States very soon. And without that clarity it will be difficult for Kirk to deal with Antigua and Barbuda and the European Union.
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