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UAE eases Qatar shipping ban amid continuing dispute

UAE eases Qatar shipping ban amid continuing dispute

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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, Reuters reported based on port circulars and an industry source.

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.

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, according to Reuters.

However,  the ban on vessels flying the Qatar flag, owned by Qatari shipping firms or nationals still stays. UAE-flagged vessels still cannot call at Qatar ports.

Reuters also quoted an industry source that the circular applied to all UAE ports. Government authorities in both Gulf Arab states did not immediately respond to the agency's request for comment.

Liberian flagged container ship MSC ELSA 3 arrived at Dubai’s Jebel Ali Port on February 20 from Qatar’s Umm Said, according to Refinitiv data.

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.

Business circles in the Gulf say the boycott has raised costs for companies operating in the region, with goods having to be routed through ports in third countries when sailing between Qatar and UAE. 

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