Caricom leaders raise concerns about ‘global inequalities’ at NAM summit
MARGARITA ISLAND, Venezuela (CMC) – Two Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders have used the just concluded summit of non-aligned countries to highlight concerns affecting their respective countries.
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne called for the “active solidarity” of members of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) in his island’s Internet gaming dispute with the United States.
He told the summit that ended here over the last weekend that Washington has failed to offer a fair settlement after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) had ruled 13 years ago that the American action was illegal.
The WTO had ruled that against the United States’ total prohibition of cross-border gambling services offered by Antiguan operators.
“To this day, 13 years later, the United States has not put a fair offer on the table,’” Brown said, adding that Washington’s failure has “deprived my small country of revenue, employment and economic growth.”
He said the Antigua and Barbuda has been deprived of about US$250 million since the ruling.
“How do small and micro states get justice when powerful nations refuse to co-operate?” Brown asked.
He said his country has begun to seriously consider selling US material without paying copyright to the value of US$12 million a year until Washington finally settles the dispute.
He said that is the course of the remedy the WTO has promised in the face of what Brown calls the Americans’ “recalcitrance”.
“We have reached such a level of frustration at the recalcitrance of the US to make a fair offer for the injury that has been done to our economy over the last 13 years that my government is contemplating activating the remedy that is given to us by the WTO,” he told delegates of over 100 countries at the summit here.
“How can it be that the United States, the most powerful economy and county in the world, can so blatantly disregard the very trade rules that it demands be observed by other countries? This domineering behaviour by the US is troublesome. We are a small state, but we have rights too. And we will stand in defense of the sovereign rights of Antigua and Barbuda,” Brown reasoned.
Meanwhile, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves called for solidarity among non-aligned countries to help build a new world order, criticising what he described “casino capitalism” which has brought more inequalities in the world.
“The factual situation in the world today shows a casino capitalism where there’s an increased ‘financialisation’ of global capitalism, completely divorced or significantly divorced from the production of real goods and services,” he said, adding that this state of affairs was the main reason for the world economic recession of a few years ago.
“We have to be, in this movement, in this 21st century; we have to address this question fundamentally,” he urged the delegates of over 100 countries.
He called on NAM, particularly those which are members of the G20, to “raise their voices about the nature of this inequality which breeds problems for the whole world.”
“The inequality generates, in Europe and North America, right-wing political organisations which are demanding a greater share of the cake for themselves. I do not have to get involved in the internal politics of the United States of America and Europe for the point to be understood,” Gonsalves said, adding that issues of the growing world population and climate change put the survival of small island states at risk,” Gonsalves said.
He also warned that the pledges of the large world economies to help tackle global warming might not be enough to keep sea levels down.
“It is only a body of this kind which can carry the arguments forcefully for us to assist in saving our world,” he declared.
Gonsalves said the global inequality is also manifesting itself in “the injustice in relation to the Palestinian people and the Cuban people; the hegemony raising its head against Venezuela and the judicial and parliamentary coup d’etat in Brazil.”
“Our solidarity here is important. We go to the UN General Assembly next week and we have to speak with a spirit and with a voice which resonates that we cannot in humanity’s name continue in the way we have been going on,” he said.
“Let us so resolve, at this 17th summit of the Non Aligned Movement in a sense, as we say in cricket, can take a fresh guard, and strengthen our solidarity ever more,” Gonsalves added.