UAE withdraws WTO complaint over Qatar

Abu Dhabi to discontinue action over discriminatory trade restrictions after Qatar fixes measures in question.

ABU DHABI - The United Arab Emirates withdrew on Thursday a complaint it made to the World Trade Organization accusing Qatar of imposing discriminatory trade restrictions on its goods.

"Qatar withdrew the measures in question, in order to address the claims" which led Abu Dhabi to discontinue its action against Doha, the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement.

The UAE, whose complaint was referred to a WTO dispute resolution panel in May, has enforced a complete economic embargo of Qatar along with Saudi Arabia and other regional allies since June 2017.

The Saudi-led bloc, which also includes Bahrain and Egypt, accuses Doha of supporting Islamist movements and backing Iran, a claim Qatar rejects.

The UAE previously said the measures it challenged "appear to be inconsistent" with WTO agreements.

"Qatar's discriminatory measures against goods... originating from the United Arab Emirates, imposed in May and June 2018, violated Qatar's obligations and commitments as a member of the WTO," added the Emirati statement.

"As a result, the UAE put forward a request for the formation of a WTO dispute settlement panel on January 28, 2019, against Qatar, to seek the withdrawal of the discriminatory measures."

Abu Dhabi made its initial complaint to the WTO in January.

Since 2017, the UAE along with Saudi Arabia and its allies have hit Qatar with bans on shipping, trade, direct flights, overflight and land crossings.

In June 2018, the dispute moved to the UN's top court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, where Qatar accused the UAE of racial discrimination and human rights abuses against its citizens in the Emirates.

The court ordered the UAE in July to protect the rights of its Qatari residents, and to put an end to measures that would stop Qatari students completing their studies.

The UAE in May 2019 accused Qatar before the ICJ of "aggravating" the two-year-old crisis and of "false accusations".

A day later, Qatar accused the Emirates of a "campaign of violence and hatred" against its citizens.

Qatar did not immediately respond to requests to comment on the UAE's decision to withdraw the complaint.