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Qatar Files WTO Complaint Against 4 Siege Nations

Net international reserves dropped 30% in June to $24 billion.Net international reserves dropped 30% in June to $24 billion.
Qatar’s ministry of economy said a complaint had been lodged with the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body against the siege countries

Qatar has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over an "illegal siege" imposed by its Persian Gulf Arab neighbors, the commerce ministry said.

The gas-rich emirate has been slapped with sanctions and demands after four countries headed by Saudi Arabia cut ties with it on June 5, accusing Doha of fostering terrorist groups and of links to Iran. Qatar denies the allegations, AFP reported.

Its ministry of economy and commerce said a complaint had been lodged with the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body against the "siege countries" (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain).

Demands by the Saudi-led bloc include termination of regional news giant Al-Jazeera, the downgrading of Iran ties and the closure of a Turkish military base in the country.

Under Saudi tutelage the countries have also recalled their ambassadors from Doha, ordered all Qataris to return home and banned Qatar from using their airspace.

"The complaint accuses the siege countries of violating the WTO's core laws and conventions on trade of goods and services, and trade-related aspects of intellectual property," the Qatar ministry said. "The arbitrary measures taken by the siege countries are a clear violation of the provisions and conventions of international trade law.

Foreign ministers of the four countries say there would be no compromise until Qatar ends its support for terrorism.

“We are back to square one,” said Abdullah Al-Shayji, a political science professor at Kuwait University. “We have not progressed an inch because we were under the impression that the 13 demands were not only null and void but channeled into six principles. It seems that they are not budging and are escalating," Bloomberg reported.

Net international reserves dropped 30% in June to 88.85 billion riyals ($24 billion), according to the central bank. Data released last week showed that foreign deposits at Qatar’s banks fell the most in almost two years last month as customers withdrew funds, pressuring liquidity available locally for businesses and the government.

The decline in deposits squeezed liquidity, so the central bank used reserves to “ease the crunch and to preserve the riyal peg against the dollar,” said Mohamed Abu Basha, a Cairo-based economist at EFG-Hermes, a regional investment bank.

Qatar’s isolation has forced the nation to open new, more expensive, trade routes to import food, building materials and equipment. Imports also dropped 40% compared with the same month a year ago.

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