Qatar files legal complaint to WTO over trade boycott


The dispute erupted in early June when the four countries of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and transport links with Qatar.

Its ministry of economy and commerce said a complaint had been lodged with the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body against the "siege countries" (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain).

On July 21, in his first public speech since the crisis started, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani called for holding talks to resolve the Gulf standoff, though emphasising that any talks should be in respect of its national sovereignty.

The diplomatic crisis is the worst to hit the region in decades.

The exercises are launched amid Qatar being in the center of severe pressure from four neighboring countries. Other demands include closing a Turkish military base in Qatar, limiting ties with Iran, expelling Islamist political figures and paying restitution for victims of terrorism allegedly linked to Qatar.

The text of Qatar's WTO complaint cites "coercive attempts at economic isolation" and spells out how they are impeding Qatar's rights in the trade in goods, trade in services and intellectual property.

The citizens of Qatar who are overseas will have to return to the country, during the Hajj period at the end of August and beginning of September, to be able to enter Saudi Arabia by way of one of the designated airports.

The disputed trade restrictions include bans on trade through Qatar's ports and travel by Qatari citizens, blockages of Qatari digital services and websites, closures of maritime borders and prohibition of flights operated by Qatari aircraft.

Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said that the Saudi actions violate a number of global laws. The principles included denying safe havens and financing to terrorists, combating terrorism and extremism, stopping incitement of hatred and violence, and refraining from interfering in the internal politics of other countries, the New York Times reported.

Qatar has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against three of the four Arab countries that are isolating it, opening up a possible new path for negotiations with its opponents.

The blockade imposed by the four states is forcing Qatar to seek alternative-and more expensive-routes for trade, and its imports dropped in June by 40 percent compared to June previous year, Bloomberg data show.