February 20, 2019
DUBAI/DOHA (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates has eased a ban on the shipping of goods between it and Qatar enforced under a political and economic boycott of Doha, according to port circulars and an industry source.
An Abu Dhabi Ports circular dated Feb. 12 canceled previous directives that banned cargoes of Qatar origin from UAE waters and ports and those of UAE origin from Qatar. It maintained a ban on vessels flying the Qatar flag, owned by Qatari shipping firms or nationals.
An industry source told Reuters the circular applied to all ports in the UAE. Government authorities in both Gulf Arab states were not immediately available to comment.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain severed diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017 over allegations it supports terrorism, a charge Doha denies.
It was not clear if the move was linked to complaints filed to the World Trade Organisation related to the Gulf dispute.
Qatar filed in July 2017 a wide-ranging legal complaint at the WTO to challenge the trade boycott. Last month, the UAE filed a complaint against Qatar at the WTO saying Doha has imposed a ban on Emirati products.
On the political front, there has been no indication of a thaw. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have said the dispute is not a priority and that Qatar must accept a list of conditions before ties are restored. Qatar has said that although it would like the matter resolved it is moving on and last year quit oil producer group OPEC, of which Saudi Arabia is de facto leader.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, Lisa Barrington and Eric Knecht; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean)