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WTO Sets Up Panel to Review UAE Measures on Goods, Services, IP Rights

26-Nov-2017 | Source : WTO | Visits : 8238
GENEVA - At the request of Qatar, the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) agreed on November 22 to establish a panel to examine measures imposed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Qatar affecting trade in goods and services and the protection of intellectual property (IP) rights, a press release by the WTO stated. 

Qatar referred to its statements at the last DSB meeting on this matter and requested the establishment of a panel for a second time. It said the UAE had refused all consultations and had acted unilaterally, in gross disregard for the rights of Qatar and other members. The measures adopted by the UAE and some other members were discriminatory, prevented freedom of transit and frustrated the majority of trade between Qatar and those members, it said.

The United Arab Emirates regretted Qatar's panel request. It, along with eight other countries, had been forced to take measures in response to Qatar's funding of terrorist organizations, it said. This was not a commercial dispute; the measures had been taken to protect the UAE's essential security interests in full conformity with WTO rules. The UAE could not agree to the establishment of a panel and said that the WTO had no authority to second guess a member's determination of its national security interests.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt supported the UAE's statement, saying that members had the sole right to determine whether measures were necessary to protect their essential security interests, and that the WTO dispute settlement system was not able to resolve these types of disputes.

Canada, Korea and the United States noted that this dispute was political in nature, was inappropriate for WTO dispute settlement and urged the parties to hold constructive discussions towards resolving this dispute, possibly with the assistance of the Director-General's good offices. China said that where a security exception had been invoked, members should first determine whether the resolution of the dispute at issue could be achieved through the WTO dispute settlement system. At the same time, members should fulfil their WTO obligations.

Qatar said that it had continued to respect its WTO commitments, including supplying the UAE with essential energy-related products. The security exceptions in the covered agreements were subject to multilateral review and the UAE and Saudi Arabia were incorrect in believing otherwise. The UAE responded that issues of national security were political matters not capable of review by the WTO dispute settlement mechanism. Members retained the authority to self-determine matters they deemed necessary to their essential security interests and had broad discretion to do so, the UAE argued.

The DSB agreed to establish a panel to examine Qatar's complaint. Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, China, Egypt, the European Union, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Norway, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Ukraine, the United States and Yemen reserved their third party rights to participate in the panel proceedings.

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