Qatar starts WTO dispute process

8 August 2017

Qatar has raised formal complaints at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the ongoing embargo instigated by a number of Gulf states.

Going through the WTO’s dispute settlement system, Qatar has filed complaints against Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar for what it describes as “coercive attempts at economic isolation”.

The three countries, as well as Egypt, suddenly cut all diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar last month, accusing the state of sponsoring terrorism. Qatar denies this charge. The resulting blockade has forced Qatar to reroute its trade through allied Iran and Oman.

Statistics released last week by the Qatari government showed imports had dropped 38% in the first month of the blockade. 

The complaint submitted to the WTO is called a request for consultation, which is in essence a request for bilateral negotiations to resolve the dispute without litigation. If the parties fail to resolve their dispute within 60 days, Qatar can then request a WTO panel to adjudicate.

In the request for consultation Qatar accuses the three countries of closing maritime boarders, blocking entry of ships into its ports, prohibiting its aircraft from using its airspace, and refusing to do business with Qatari-based suppliers among other allegations.

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