Qatar climbdown in WTO case involving ‘illegal’ ban on UAE goods

The UAE initiated WTO dispute-settlement proceedings against Qatar in January. (Reuters)
Updated 27 April 2019

Qatar climbdown in WTO case involving ‘illegal’ ban on UAE goods

  • UAE government said in January that it had initiated WTO dispute-settlement proceedings against Qatar
  • Qatar has now decided to partially withdraw its measures

LONDON: Qatar has backed down on measures relating to its “illegal” ban on UAE goods and services, the subject of a dispute lodged with the World Trade Organization, the Emirates’ state news agency WAM reported.
The UAE government said in January that it had initiated WTO dispute-settlement proceedings against Qatar, following a ban on goods imposed by Doha.
Qatar has now decided to partially withdraw its measures, in what WAM said was “a significant concession aimed at averting the consequences of the UAE’s case” lodged with the WTO.
The step was announced during a session of the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO on Friday, WAM reported on Saturday. Qatar has also partially revoked measures that banned buying and selling commodities exported by the UAE.
“The Qatari climbdown recognizes that Doha’s policies had violated its international obligations. However, the partial concession doesn’t … resolve some of the fundamental issues of the dispute, and the UAE continues to explore its legal options to ensure that Qatar abides by its WTO obligations,” WAM reported.
Abdullah Hamdan Al-Naqbi, director of the international law department at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Qatar’s confession of its previous violations marks “a clear concession.”
“We continue to seek Qatar’s full withdrawal of these measures so as to ensure Doha’s commitment to its WTO obligations and ensure our exports of goods has free access to Qatar markets,” he said.
Qatar’s approach had “placed it on the defensive,” with little recognition of the consequences of its actions, Al-Naqbi added.
The UAE is one of several Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, that have imposed a boycott on Qatar due to its alleged support of terror groups. Doha denies the charges.

Oil falls below $57 on virus impact and OPEC+ delay

Updated 19 February 2020

Oil falls below $57 on virus impact and OPEC+ delay

  • Contagion ‘is spooking market players,’ analysts say after Asian shares fall and Apple issues warning

LONDON: Oil fell below $57 a barrel on Tuesday, pressured by concerns over the impact on crude demand from the coronavirus outbreak in China and a lack of further action by OPEC and its allies to support the market.

Forecasters including the International Energy Agency (IEA) have cut 2020 oil demand estimates because of the virus. Though new cases in mainland China have dipped, global experts say it is too early to judge if the outbreak is being contained.

Brent crude was down 82 cents at $56.85 a barrel in mid-afternoon trade after rallying in the previous five sessions. US West Texas Intermediate crude fell 70 cents to $51.35.

“Risk aversion has returned to the markets,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

“OPEC+ has shown no sign yet of reacting to the virus-related slump in demand by making additional production cuts.”

The virus is having a wider impact on companies and financial markets. Asian shares fell and Wall Street was poised to retreat on Tuesday after Apple said it would miss quarterly revenue guidance owing to weakened demand in China.

“This has spooked market players and triggered a sharp pullback in risk assets,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM.

The IEA last week said that first-quarter oil demand is likely to fall by 435,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the same period last year in the first quarterly decline since the financial crisis in 2009.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, have been considering further production cuts to tighten supply and support prices.

The group, known as OPEC+, has a pact to cut oil output by 1.7 million bpd until the end of March.

The next OPEC+ meeting next month is set to consider an advisory panel’s recommendation to cut supply by a further 600,000 bpd. Talks on holding an earlier meeting in February appear to have made no progress, OPEC sources said.

As well as OPEC+ voluntary curbs, support for prices has come from involuntary losses in Libya, where output has collapsed since Jan. 18 because of a blockade of ports and oilfields.