Boycotting countries invoke WTO’s ‘national security’ clause in Qatar row

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Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt informed the World Trade Organization on Friday of the legality of their actions after boycotting Qatar, exercising their sovereign rights guaranteed by international law to protect their national security.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Trade and Investment said that this came on the sidelines of a meeting with the WTO Council on Trade in Goods held in Geneva, Switzerland, on the compatibility of the decisions taken by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt with the organization’s regulations.

Speaking on behalf of all three countries, the Bahraini diplomat at the WTO's Goods Council said the measures were "in accordance with Article XXI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade", which allows the usual rules to be broken for national security reasons, the official said.

The article states that during a dispute in international relations, the obligations of the convention allows member states to take the steps they deem necessary to protect their interests and their national security.

Article 14 of the Services Agreement and Article 73 of the IP Convention signed by Member States guarantee all the sovereign rights of States to take any action to protect their national security and stability from violations they may be subjected to.

Last month, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar, citing Doha's role in supporting terrorist groups.

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