May 27, 2018 (BE2C2) — Days before embargo anniversary, Qatar has banned goods from 4 nations.
A directive from the economy ministry ordered shops to immediately strip shelves of products from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.
Inspectors will visit stores to ensure they comply with the order, the ministry said.
The government will also try and stop products such as Saudi dairy goods from entering Qatar via a third country.
The gas-rich country’s Government Communications Office (GCO) said it was trying to “protect the safety of consumers”.
“Products originating from blockading states, which as a result of the blockade cannot pass the GCC customs territory, have to undergo proper import inspections and customs procedures,” the GCO said in a statement.
“Qatar conducts its trade policy in accordance with all of its multilateral and bilateral agreements.”
Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Bahrain and Egypt cut economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing the country of financing terrorist groups and having close ties with Iran, charges Qatar rejects. The rift forced Qatar to shift import routes to Kuwait and Oman, and buy goods from Iran and Turkey.
The countries subsequently imposed a trade and diplomatic boycott on Qatar, which rejects the charges and says the countries are seeking regime change in Doha.
The row has forced isolated Qatar, which previously relied on its Gulf neighbors, to look elsewhere for food imports, including Turkey, Morocco and Iran.
Many such imports enter the country via ports such as Kuwait and Oman.
It is through these ports, and also via individuals, that goods from the boycotting countries manage to get in to Qatar, said a source with knowledge of the situation.
“Businessmen from the blockading countries are trying to go around the blockade… by using third parties,” said the source.
Qatar, which has one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, has been absorbing the shock of the embargo. The economy expanded faster than most of its neighbors last year and is expected to outperform this year, according to International Monetary Fund data.
After shoring up ties in Western capitals and spending billions on weapons, Qatar plans to retool its economy to attract foreign investment and build a financial hub for companies in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Pakistan. Last year it launched direct shipping service to Karachi port for import of food items.
Qatar has the highest per capita income in the region: $129,726.