Going on the offensive, Qatar files WTO complaint against blockading nations

Going on the offensive, Qatar files WTO complaint against blockading nations

By QLNews

Almost two months after the start of the illegal siege of the country, Qatar has finally gone on the offensive against blockading nations.

Qatar has now lodged a formal complaint with the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body against the countries that have imposed a siege on Doha, reported Gulf Times.

Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) announced that the complaint accused the siege countries of violating WTO’s core laws and conventions on trade of goods and services, and trade-related aspects of intellectual property.

The wide-ranging legal complaint was filed against the four blockading nations — Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — according to Ali Alwaleed Al Thani, the director of Qatar’s WTO office.

By formally ‘requesting consultations’ with the three countries, the first step in a trade dispute, Qatar triggered a 60-day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions, reported The Peninsula.

“We’ve given sufficient time to hear the legal explanations on how these measures are in compliance with their commitments, to no satisfactory result,” Al Thani said.

“We’ve always called for dialogue, for negotiations, and this is part of our strategy to talk to the members concerned and to gain more information on these measures, the legality of these measures, and to find a solution to resolve the dispute.”

The siege-laying nations closed Qatar’s only land border (with Saudi Arabia) and denied access to sea and airspace, violating the rights not only of Qatar, but also of its trading partners.

HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassem bin Mohammed Al Thani, Minister of Economy and Commerce, said the arbitrary measures taken by the siege countries are a clear violation of the provisions and conventions of international trade law.

“Furthermore, the illegal siege is unprecedented in the framework of economic blocs,” he said.

The text of Qatar's WTO complaint cites ‘coercive attempts at economic isolation’ and spells out how they are impeding Qatar’s rights in the trade in goods, trade in services and intellectual property.

The complaints against Saudi Arabia and the UAE run to eight pages each, while the document on Bahrain is six pages.

The WTO suit does not include Egypt, the fourth country involved in the boycott. Although it has also cut travel and diplomatic ties with Qatar, Egypt did not expel Qatari citizens or ask Egyptians to leave Qatar. 

The disputed trade restrictions include bans on trade through Qatar’s ports and travel by Qatari citizens, blockages of Qatari digital services and websites, closure of maritime borders and prohibition of flights operated by Qatari aircraft.

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