Qatar requests WTO to adjudicate on its trade dispute with the UAE

Qatar requests WTO to adjudicate on its trade dispute with the UAE

QLBusiness
By QLBusiness

Qatar has taken the extraordinary step of asking the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to set up a dispute panel to adjudicate on its trade row with the United Arab Emirates.

The row had erupted after the UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt decided to impose an illegal siege on Qatar on June 5.

Qatar’s filing for adjudication followed the UAE’s refusal to take part in talks to find a solution to the complaint filed by Qatar on July 31, reported Gulf Times.

The initial complaint, which also included Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, triggered a 60-day window to settle the issue in talks without entering years of litigation.

But on Aug 10, Qatar received a communication from the chairman of the WTO’s dispute settlement body stating that the UAE would not engage in consultations with Qatar, reported Reuters.

“As a result of the UAE’s refusal to engage in consultations with Qatar, the dispute hasn’t been resolved,” said a WTO announcement.

The document, published by the WTO on Thursday, did not mention Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and it was not immediately clear if Qatar would also ask for adjudication in its complaints against them.

The blockading nations had previously told the WTO that they would cite national security to justify their actions against Qatar, using a controversial and almost unprecedented exemption allowed under the WTO rules.

Adjudication of the dispute is not automatic. Under the WTO’s rules, the UAE is allowed to reject Qatar’s first request for a dispute panel, so Qatar has to ask two meetings of the dispute settlement body before a panel will be set up.

It said it would make the first request at the next meeting on October 24.

Qatar had filed a wide-ranging legal complaint at the WTO in July end to challenge the trade boycott.

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

After filing the complaint, director of Qatar’s WTO office Sheikh Ali Alwaleed 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 complaint had not put a value on the trade boycott. Litigation can take two to five years or longer to reach a judgement in the WTO system.

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