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Qatar files legal complaint at WTO on trade boycott

Qatar files legal complaint at WTO on trade boycottQatar has filed a wide-ranging legal complaint at the World Trade Organisation to challenge a trade boycott by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, Qatar’s WTO representative Ali Alwaleed al-Thani said.

By formally “requesting consultations” with the three countries, the first step in a trade dispute, Qatar triggered a 60-day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions.

The boycotting countries have previously told the WTO that they would cite national security to justify their actions against Qatar, using a controversial and almost unprecedented exemption allowed under the WTO rules.

The disputed trade restrictions include bans on trade through Qatar’s ports and travel by Qatari citizens, blockages of Qatari digital services and websites, closure of maritime borders, and prohibitions on flights by Qatari aircraft.

The complaint does not put a value on the trade boycott, and Thani declined to estimate how much Qatar could seek in sanctions if the litigation ever reached that stage, which can take two to five years, or even longer, in the WTO system. “We remain hopeful that the consultations could bear fruit in resolving this,” he said.
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