The structure of the multilateral trading system is widely assumed to contain bias towards big actors, unevenly distributing access to the key processes of the system. Small countries, including Caribbean states, have long focused their attention on physical merchandise, while the US has taken on the role of disciplinarian, confronting countries that they perceive to be in violation of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

Brought to the WTO by Antigua, the Internet remote gambling case has challenged standard assumptions about the workings of the international trading system in the WTO context. A small country appearing to take the US on by itself, Antigua claimed the American government failed to live up to its commitment under GATS regarding "recreational services." While Antigua argued for fairness in the WTO system, the US adopted a prohibitionist attitude to Internet remote gambling, citing domestic moral standards.

Underwritten by the highly globalized Internet remote gambling industry, this case exemplifies what a small state can do to respond to dynamic changes imposed by globalization, confirming that small countries can sometimes punch above their weight in international relations.

Part of Series

CIGI's Caribbean Papers present and discuss policy issues pertaining to trade, investment, human capital, the fiscal outlook and public sector management practices, among other issues, relevant to the Caribbean region's economic future.