Qatar backs down in WTO dispute with UAE

Doha announces withdrawal of restrictions on UAE goods and services during hearing at global trade body

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 21, 2018, a sign of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is seen at their headquarters in Geneva. The World Trade Organization on Thursday, April 18, 2019 largely sided with the United States in its Obama-era case against Beijing over Chinese restrictions on imports of American grain. The WTO decision was the second in as many months to favor Washington's position on trade with China in grain.  - 
 / AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI
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Qatar has withdrawn measures imposed against the UAE in a significant concession aimed at averting the consequences of the UAE’s case at the World Trade Organisation against a Qatari ban on UAE goods and services.

Qatar announced its decision during a session of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on Friday to examine the UAE’s request to set up an arbitration committee to assess Qatari efforts to ban UAE consumer goods and services. It also said that it had partially revoked measures that banned buying and selling commodities exported by the UAE, the state news agency Wam reported.

The Qatari climbdown recognises that Doha's policies violated its international obligations. However, the partial concession does not resolve some of the fundamental issues of the dispute, and the UAE continues to explore its legal options to ensure that Qatar abides by its WTO obligations, Wam said.

Abdullah Hamdan Al Naqbi, director of the International Law Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, said Qatar's move before the UAE request was heard ''is a clear concession".

''We continue to seek Qatar’s full withdrawal of these measures so as to ensure Doha's commitment to its WTO obligations and ensure our exports of goods has free access to Qatar markets,'' he said.

''We see today that Qatar approach, which placed it on the defensive, did not count and think of the damage that will come back from this trend.''

The UAE had filed a complaint against Qatar at the WTO in January, saying Doha had imposed a ban on Emirati products in contravention of trade rules.

The move followed the Qatari Ministry of Economy's ban on the sale of consumer goods manufactured in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, as well as the decision by Doha to stop pharmacies from selling medicines and other products coming from the four countries.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt have imposed a diplomatic, trade and transport boycott of Qatar since June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism.