WTO complaint lodged: UAE claims Qatar’s import ban a breach of international trade law

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

The UAE filed a WTO complaint against Qatar in late January. ©Pixabay
The UAE filed a WTO complaint against Qatar in late January. ©Pixabay

Related tags Wto disputes settlement Trade boycott

The UAE has filed a complaint against Qatar at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), claiming that the latter’s ban against UAE products, including food items, was inconsistent with international laws.

According to the dispute statement, the UAE said that Qatar had deployed measures that prohibit various sales outlets in Qatar, including distributors, retailers, and pharmacies, from importing, stocking, distributing, marketing or selling goods, medicines, and other products originating in or exported from the UAE.”

The UAE said in the dispute statement that it looked forward to receiving a reply from Qatar to the request for consultation.

The UAE, along with three other countries - Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017. They also imposed a blockade on Qatar, claiming that it has been financing terrorist groups. 

Unlike the UAE, the other three countries involved in the diplomatic crisis have yet to file a complaint against Qatar.  

In response to the blockade, Qatar retaliated​ by ordering shops to remove goods, including food products originating from the blockading countries. 

It also filed a WTO complaint against the blockading countries, excluding Egypt, in year 2017. The cases are still ongoing.

UAE state media Emirates News Agency ​earlier reported that Qatar’s WTO complaint is “baseless”​ and “not initiated in good faith.”

“Qatar has tried to justify its decision by saying that these actions were taken to protect the safety of consumers and to combat the illegal trafficking of goods, butoffered no explanation as to why consumer products from the four countries pose a consumer safety risk, and how the products carry a risk of illegal trafficking,” ​the report said.

Trade with Oman flourishes

Elsewhere in Oman, Qatar had enjoyed favourable trade ties.

Trade between the two jumped more than 100% last year, with the food cluster at Sohar Port and Free Zone described as one of the most prominent projects.

This is because there is “massive potential in the food industry, both in upstream and downstream businesses,” ​local media Times of Oman​ cited CEO for Sohar Port Mark Geilenkirchen as saying.

Geilenkirchen added that the aim of this cluster was to promote the entire value chain of food processing and logistics support within the expanding multibillion-dollar regional food industry.

“In addition to the new flour mill and grain silo complex, the Sohar food cluster will also house a sugar refinery, with packaging and distribution facilities planned in the future.

“The cluster will enable us to attract significant business in the coming years and is complemented by a dedicated deep-water berth and agro-terminal for the fast and efficient movement of foodstuffs within the Port,” ​he said.

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