Qatar today will formally request a World Trade Organisation dispute settlement body to adjudicate the trade dispute with the UAE.
Doha filed a complaint in July alleging that the Saudi-led bloc’s closure of borders to trade and travel violated trade law, but the UAE refused to negotiate, forcing Qatar to turn to a formal dispute body.
Although Qatar’s previous attempt to use international bodies to outmanoeuvre the Saudi-led bloc have borne little fruit, the WTO adjudication process has more teeth. A ruling favourable to Qatar could result in billions of dollars of sanctions against the UAE.
But WTO adjudication could take years, providing little short-term relief to a Qatari economy that has seen a steep decline in its critical tourism sector. The Saudi-led bloc previously announced it would take the nigh-unprecedented step of invoking the national security exemption to justify the blockade, making the outcome unpredictable.
Expect the GCC crisis to only escalate in the coming months, with no end in sight.
Delve deeper: Qatar’s Islamist ties targeted by Saudi-led demands
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