Qatar has requested that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) establish a dispute panel to consider measures imposed on it by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) affecting trade in goods and services and the protection of intellectual property rights.
The UAE had objected to Qatar’s request, stating that it and eight other countries were forced to take measures in response to Qatar’s funding of terrorist organisations. The UAE argued that WTO rules allow members to take action in the interests of national security. The UAE had also stated that the issues in the dispute were not trade issues, the WTO’s dispute system was not equipped to hear them, and clear language existed in the agreements to exclude such disputes from the WTO.
The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body has decided to defer the establishment of a panel. Click here for the WTO press release.
Last month, 4 Gulf states imposed a trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar in response to what they said was Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist organisations (see previous blog). Following a meeting yesterday, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE continued the sanctions because Qatar did not meet their 13 demands, including to end all funding of terrorist groups, severing diplomatic ties with Iran, and shutting down broadcaster al-Jazeera.
There was some expectation that sanctions might be expanded, for example through divestment from Qatar, withdrawal of deposits from Qatari banks, and a stricter air blockade, and the UAE’s foreign secretary Anwar Gargash has warned that Qatar faces “incremental measures” if it does not meet the demands.
It is reported that Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, who imposed sanctions on Qatar and several Qatar-linked people and entities last week (see previous blog), are not also seeking to have them included on the UN’s sanctions list. The new listings, which affect 59 people and 12 entities said to be linked to terrorism, came days after the 4 states cut off their relations with Qatar, having accused it of supporting terrorism and Iran. However, while it would be difficult to gain the required support for the listings at UN level, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry suggested on Wednesday that there may be more Qatar-linked sanctions to come.
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have jointly designated 59 people and 12 entities as supporters of al-Qaida and associated organisations. Many of the new listings are Qatar-linked people and entities, and follow a decision by those 4 countries last week to bar all traffic with Qatar, eject its diplomats, and require all Qatari citizens to leave within 14 days, in response to what they say is Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups they deem to be terrorist organisations. A list of the newly designated people and entities is here.