Nine countries, including the Arab nations of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen, recently imposed sanctions on Qatar, accusing it of destabilizing the region by supporting extremist groups. These sanctions have resulted in a far-reaching boycott of Qatar.
As part of this boycott, these nine countries have terminated all diplomatic and consular ties with Qatar. Additionally, they have ended all land, sea, and air contact with the country. As a result, many EU companies face challenges due to the fact that much EU-Qatar trade goes via hubs in the region (for example, via the ports of the UAE). As a consequence of the current sanctions, it is no longer possible to use these “normal” shipping routes to Qatar.
Alternative shipping routes, for example via Oman, may be considered. In this respect, note that the current situation in the region is highly insecure and fragile. It is therefore very difficult to predict what the next moves of the various parties involved will be and whether other countries in the region (e.g., Oman) would impose similar sanctions.
In addition, companies need to be aware that the countries imposing sanctions have made clear in directives that any sympathy towards or direct interaction between individual citizens or companies with Qatar will result in criminal charges. EU companies with business operations directed towards Qatar should closely review the involvement of local branches/entities in the countries imposing sanctions. Furthermore, the re-routing of shipments via other countries, such as Oman, must be closely scrutinized from a circumvention point of view.
Lastly, this is an ongoing issue, and the situation is changing every day. The latest status is that the countries imposing sanctions have given Qatar a list of 13 demands to end the blockade. This list includes the shutdown of Al-Jazeera news channel and its affiliate stations.
Read a June 2017 report prepared by the KPMG member firm in the Netherlands
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