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Monday, 27 November 2017

WTO establishes panel to examine Qatar’s complaint against UAE

Over the past few months Katfriend Riyadh Al-Balushi (SOAS University of London) has covered the IP implications of the Qatar diplomatic crisis [here, here, here] for our blog.

The latest development is that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has now set up a panel to examine Qatar’s complaint against UAE.

Riyadh tells it all. Here’s what he writes:

“The Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has agreed to establish a panel to examine Qatar’s complaint against the UAE in relation to the sanctions imposed against Qatar amidst the ongoing diplomatic crisis of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Qatar’s complaint alleges that the sanctions imposed on it by the UAE violate a variety of obligations under the GATT, GATS, and TRIPS agreements. In regard to IP in particular, in the document it submitted in October, Qatar claims that the UAE’s sanctions violate Articles 3 and 4 (relating to national treatment and most favoured nation treatment) and Articles 41, 42, and 61 (relating to the enforcement intellectual property rights) of the TRIPS Agreement.

The UAE refused to engage in consultations with Qatar to address the complaint and argues that the measures it had taken are meant to protect the UAE's essential security interests and are accordingly in full conformity with WTO rules. The UAE argues that the WTO does not have the authority to second guess a member's determination of its national security interests.

Qatar responded to the UAE’s claims by arguing that the security exceptions in GATT, GATS, and TRIPS agreements are subject to multilateral review - and cannot be imposed on the basis of a member’s own determination.

The DSB agreed to Qatar’s request and decided to establish a panel to examine the complaint. The members of the pane have not been appointed until now.

Qatar has also initiated similar complaints against Bahrain and Saudi (the other two GCC countries involved in the diplomatic dispute), but these complaints have not moved beyond the consultation stage.

You can read more about the potential violations of the TRIPS agreement in the GCC diplomatic dispute here (Part 1 and Part 2) and more about the general implications of the dispute on GCC IP rights here.”

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