The United Arab Emirates (UAE) said Tuesday it had filed a complaint against Qatar at the World Trade Organization (WTO) after Qatar banned the circulation of Emirati products in its markets.
The Emirates News Agency WAM reported that the Qatari Ministry of Economy and Commerce banned the sale of consumer goods manufactured in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt as well as the decision of the country’s Ministry of Public Health to prohibit pharmacies from selling medicines and other health products imported from these four countries. The four countries cut diplomatic ties with Doha in June 2017 and imposed a diplomatic, trade and transport boycott of Qatar over allegations Doha supports terrorism.
Qatar also removed the names of UAE companies from the directory of accredited infrastructure suppliers and maintained an undeclared ban on products originating from the UAE.
The measures taken by Qatar are a flagrant violation of WTO rules. Qatar took this action after its had started to settle disputes against the UAE through the WTO in August 2017, which is still an ongoing case. However, rather than respecting the WTO to rule on its complaint, Qatar has instead decided to impose unilateral retaliatory measures, violating the very same rules it claims the UAE is violating, said WAM.
WTO rules stipulate that members who claim that another member has violated a WTO agreement must submit such claims to the Dispute Settlement Body. The rules explicitly prohibits members from unilaterally taking action in retaliation for alleged WTO violations, WAM said.
Having filed a WTO case, Qatar cannot now disregard the rules of the WTO and impose retaliation on its own without a WTO decision.
As the UAE has made clear since the inception of Qatar’s case, WTO rules specify that countries may take any action they consider necessary to protect their fundamental security interests.