Doha launches com­plaint against boy­cott

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

DUBAI, United Arab Emi­rates — Qatar has filed a widerang­ing 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 Gulf na­tion said on Mon­day that it had filed the griev­ance with the WTO’s dis­pute set­tle­ment body al­leg­ing that Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates and Bahrain are vi­o­lat­ing laws and con­ven­tions re­lated to trade.

The three coun­tries, along with Egypt, cut diplo­matic ties and sev­ered air, land and sea links with Qatar on June 5, ac­cus­ing it of sup­port­ing ex­trem­ists. Qatar de­nies the charge and sees the boy­cott as po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

Qatar’s ap­peal to the WTO co­in­cided with a visit to Geneva by Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassem bin Mo­hammed Al Thani, the coun­try’s min­is­ter of econ­omy and com­merce, who met with the head of the or­ga­ni­za­tion and lawyers spe­cial­iz­ing in trade dis­putes.

It calls for the start of for­mal con­sul­ta­tions with the three Gulf states and lays out spe­cific trade vi­o­la­tions, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased by Qatar’s gov­ern­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fice. It ar­gues the boy­cott hurts not only Qatar, which is the world’s big­gest ex­porter of liq­ue­fied natural gas, but also its trad­ing part­ners.

“This pos­i­tive step taken by Qatar clearly demon­strates to all mem­ber coun­tries of the WTO the level of trans­parency ex­hib­ited by Qatar through re­quest­ing for­mal and trans­par­ent di­a­logue and con­sul­ta­tions with the siege coun­tries,” the state­ment said.

Un­der WTO rules, the par­ties have 60 days to re­solve their dis­pute through ne­go­ti­a­tions. If they fail, Qatar can re­quest the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­de­pen­dent panel that could force the trio to end their boy­cott or face penal­ties.

Qatar has re­jected a tough 13-point list of de­mands from the Arab bloc, ar­gu­ing that ac­cept­ing them would un­der­mine its sovereignty.

Kuwait is me­di­at­ing the cri­sis, but it and Western-led diplo­matic ef­forts have so far failed to se­cure a break­through. Nei­ther side has shown any sig­nif­i­cant sign of back­ing down.

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