Companies trading with Qatar are becoming increasingly concerned about the severing of diplomatic ties with that country on 4 June by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have implemented what is effectively a blockade against Qatar, closing airspace and territorial waters and preventing onward shipment of goods traditionally routed through them.
This is of greatest concern to companies which might have goods destined for Qatar now ‘stuck in transit’ in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, particularly those with Letters of Credit stipulating delivery by specific dates to secure payment.
UK exporters are being encouraged to discuss with their shipping agents alternative routes into Qatar but a threat of wider action by Yemen, Libya and the Maldives could further complicate arrangements.
The British Chamber of Commerce in Qatar has issued a statement which said: “On 4 June 2017, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. This has led to closures affecting road, air and sea routes between these countries and Qatar, as well as travel and residence restrictions affecting Qatari nationals. Restrictions on entry to the UAE have also been placed on certain holders of Qatari Residence Permits. These restrictions don’t apply to British nationals.
As of 6 June 2017, the land border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia is closed. All flights between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain are suspended until further notice. These measures are likely to lead to some disruption for travellers in the region. You should check with your airline before you travel. Direct flights to and from the UK aren’t affected.
Travellers should also check with the FCO Travel Advice for Qatar which is being updated regularly.
Trade with Qatar is similarly affected by the closure of ports and road borders to Qatar bound shipments. Companies with goods in transit to Qatar should check with their shipping and handling agents to determine how best to ensure the shipments can reach Qatar. Local shipping agents in Qatar can advise on what new routes are proving most reliable and effective.
For companies that have future business in Qatar, the Qatar government has emphasised that its ports and the airport remain open and they are operating business as usual.
The British Chamber of Commerce in Qatar judges the embargo to be only temporary in nature but it is not possible to say how long it will continue. Further information will be posted as and when the situation changes.