WTO on the Qatar-Saudi Arabia case: Kingdom’s measures are within its rights
The case involved a dispute escalated by Qatar regarding the implementation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
The WTO’s report states that Saudi Arabia’s stance towards Qatar is justified to protect is essential security interests.
According to the Article of Security Exceptions in the WTO’s agreement, which states that a member state can take actions it deems necessary to protect its essential security interests in case of an emergency in international relations between two countries.
The panel accepted that the Kingdom seeks to protect its citizens, institutions and lands. It also found that Saudi Arabia’s comprehensive measures were taken at a time of emergency in international relations.
Saudi Arabia presented the panel with extensive evidence on Qatar’s violations of regional agreements and obligations to cease support for violence and unrest in the region.
The Kingdom also provided important clarifications and documents related to protecting its essential interests from the dangers of Qatar’s policies. The panel considered those as relevant to the case and found them sufficient; therefore, it decided not to accept Qatar’s perspective on the matter.
The panel dropped five out of six of Qatar’s allegations.
There is only one conclusion related to the introduction of judicial proceedings for intellectual property.
The panel’s recommendation did not require any specific action from Saudi Arabia, at a time when this conclusion is not considered effective, given the Kingdom’s appeal.
Although a number of Qatari allegations relate to “broadcasting rights piracy,” the panel did not find any such cases and the allegations happen to be within Saudi territory.
The Saudi representative to the WTO stressed that the Kingdom has a strong record in protecting intellectual property and continues to implement its national procedures in full accordance with the WTO’s rules.
At the same time, the Saudi official highlighted that the Kingdom is determined to continue its efforts to overcome the threats of terrorism and extremism, and the WTO panel recognized Saudi Arabia’s sovereign rights in this matter.