Doha: Qatar criticised the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday after the World Trade Organization agreed to investigate a complaint from Abu Dhabi over alleged trade restrictions on its goods.
The UAE, whose complaint on Tuesday referred to a WTO dispute resolution panel, is enforcing a complete economic embargo of Qatar along with Saudi Arabia and other regional allies.
The Saudi-led bloc, which also includes Bahrain and Egypt, accuses Doha of supporting Islamist movements and backing Iran, a claim Qatar rejects.
“On 28 January 2019, the United Arab Emirates requested consultations with Qatar concerning measures imposed by Qatar relating to importing, stocking, distribution, marketing, or sale of goods from the United Arab Emirates,” the WTO said in a statement.
The United Arab Emirates said the measures it is challenging “appear to be inconsistent” with WTO agreements.
But Qatar hit back on Wednesday saying in a statement that the “suffering borne by Emirati exporters” was because of the UAE’s “coercive trade measures targeting Qatar and Qataris”.
Qatar ordered shops to remove goods originating from the Saudi-led alliance.
“Products originating from blockading states, which as a result of the blockade cannot pass the GCC customs territory, has to undergo proper import inspections and customs procedures,” the government said at the time.
“Qatar conducts its trade policy in accordance with all of its multilateral and bilateral agreements.”
It was referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Since 2017, the UAE along with Saudi Arabia and its allies have enforced a boycott of Qatar including bans on shipping, trade, direct flights, overflight and land crossings.
“Qatar pointed out (to the WTO) 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,” said the Qatari statement.
It called the UAE’s alleged efforts to suggest Qatar had admitted to violating WTO rules an “unfortunate attempt to seize some small advantage in the UAE’s continued media campaign against Qatar”.
“It is — like so much of the UAE’s rhetoric concerning Qatar — false.”
The WTO said that while a panel to assess the dispute had been established, it had not yet been composed and gave no date for the next stage.