Arab states inform World Trade Organisation of actions against Qatar

02 July 2017

Three GCC countries and Egypt brief trade body in Geneva

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have briefed the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the measures the four Arab nations have taken against Qatar, including severing diplomatic relations and cutting transport connections. 

The briefing was held on the sidelines of the WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods meeting in Geneva, according to the Saudi Ministry of Commerce & Investment. The four nations stressed during the meeting that all measures they have taken against Qatar were consistent with international regulations that allow WTO member states to act against any other state that threatens their security and stability.

In the case of emergency in international relations, commitments under the agreement allow member states to take measures they deem necessary to protect their national interests and security, the four nations said in a joint statement released by the UAE’s Emirates News Agency (WAM).

The WTO briefing took place ahead of the 3 July deadline for Qatar to accept the 13 demands the four Arab allies have presented to the gas-rich nation for lifting their diplomatic and economic blockade. Qatar has so far given no indication it is ready to accept the list of demands, which includes shutting down state-owned broadcaster Al-Jazeera, cutting diplomatic ties with Iran and closing a Turkish military base in Qatar.

Since 5 June, Qatar has been subject to diplomatic and economic sanctions by the four countries and several other Arab states, which accuse Doha of destabilising the region through its engagement with Iran and support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as well as the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis).

Qatar has denied these allegations, with officials stating on 21 June that Doha would not negotiate until the blockade was lifted.

The list was handed over to Qatari officials by Kuwait, which is mediating in the dispute.

The list was announced after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on 22 June urged the blockading states to make their demands “reasonable and actionable”.

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