The Saudi-led bloc severed ties with Qatar on June 5 after accusing it of supporting terrorism, which was denied by Qatar.
Qatar lodged a formal complaint at the WTO ‘requesting consultations’ with the blockading countries and triggered a 60-day deadline for the Arab states to settle the issue or face litigation at WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions.
“The sanctions imposed by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain did not contradict the agreements of the WTO,” UAE state news agency WAM quoted Juma Mohammed al-Kait, an assistant undersecretary in the Economy Ministry, as saying late on Tuesday.
He said that the boycott was within article 21 and article 14 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The Arab states had earlier informed to WTO they would cite national security to back their moves against Qatar.
Kait said the agreements did not prevent WTO member states from using economic sanctions to protect basic security interests, or from carrying out the commitments in the United Nations Charter to maintain peace and security, WAM reported.
The restrictions on Qatar include Gulf bans on trade through Qatar’s ports and travel by Qatari citizens to the three Gulf countries, blockages of Qatari digital services, closure of sea borders and the closure of airspace to Qatari aircraft.