Suffering borne by Emirati exporters results from the UAE’s own coercive trade measures targeting Qatar and Qataris
On 28 May 2019, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) referred to a dispute resolution panel a UAE complaint about alleged Qatari restrictions on the import, distribution and sales of goods. The supply of goods from the UAE has been heavily restricted since the UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt barred their suppliers from exporting to Qatar in June 2017.
At a previous meeting, Qatar pointed out that the alleged Qatari restrictions did not exist. Emirati exporters may be suffering because they cannot export to Qatar, but responsibility for that lies with the Emirati authorities’ export restrictions, rather than with any measures taken by Qatar.
Qatar regrets that the UAE did not take the opportunity, at that time, to look at its own restrictive trade measures. Instead, it circulated media statements suggesting that Qatar “confessed” that its instruments violated WTO rules. That was an unfortunate attempt to seize some small advantage in the UAE’s continued media campaign against Qatar, and is – like so much of the UAE’s rhetoric concerning Qatar – false.
Indeed, all Qatari actions taken concerning goods originating in the UAE have been, and remain, consistent with Qatar’s WTO obligations.
WTO rules allow measures aimed at protecting consumers, including through requiring accurate statements about goods, adopting requirements to ensure human health, product safety, food sanitation and to address environmental concerns. Qatar has longstanding laws in these areas, and will continue to enforce them rigorously.