US claims win in dispute with EU over aerospace subsidies

The first A350 XWB delivered to China Airlines takes its first flight on Thursday Sept.15. Image credit Doumenjou Alexandre  MasterFilm
The first A350 XWB delivered to China Airlines takes its first flight on Thursday Sept.15. Image credit Doumenjou Alexandre MasterFilm

23 September, 2016

Mr. Froman said the subsidies the EU, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Spain had provided to Airbus "have cost American companies tens of billions of dollars in lost revenue". While Brussels claimed the European Union had subsequently stopped that practice, the USA disagreed and requested a compliance panel to intervene.

"We call on them to end subsidized financing of Airbus immediately", Froman said in a statement.

Airbus said the WTO had confirmed its public-private partnership model is acceptable under worldwide trade law. "Two other WTO rulings are expected in the coming months as regards the American subsidies for Boeing ..."

"After any appeal of today's compliance ruling, the next step for the U.S. government is to obtain WTO authorization to impose billions in retaliatory duties".

The EU "is closely examining" the 574-page report and has found some conclusions "unsatisfactory", a European Commission spokesperson said by e-mail.

The U.S. raised its initial objection in the Airbus case in 2004, alleging European Union member states gave illegal subsidies to the Toulouse, France-based aircraft maker.

The two sides settled a previous dispute over subsidies in 1992, but the USA walked away from that deal in 2004, arguing Airbus had an unfair advantage. The EU can still appeal the latest decision.

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The Boeing Company is the only American producer of large civil aircraft and is the largest single US exporter.

Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis A. Muilenburg called the latest WTO ruling "a victory for fair trade world-wide and for US aerospace workers, in particular".

The WTO hadn't previously passed judgment on A350 support because the program in its current form was launched only after the USA initially raised its subsidy concerns with the trade body in 2004.

The panel rejected new United States claims that the repayable support for the airbus models A350 XWB and A380 are "prohibited subsidies", which is an important win for the EU. "Without having to compete against illegal, market-distorting practices, Boeing should win more sales around the world".

The WTO said the EU had failed to comply with earlier rulings by the global trade body against all but two of 36 contested measures, including billions of dollars of European government loans to Airbus stretching back decades.

The Sept. 22 WTO report is the latest chapter in a long-running, two-way battle between Airbus and Boeing over large aircraft subsidies, with both manufacturers claiming the other has received unfair advantages.

Finally, when it came to the largest aircraft, the panel found that subsidies benefiting the A380 caused displacement or impedance of Boeing 747s in the EU, Australian Chinese, Korean, Singaporean and UAE markets, as well as lost sales of 54 Boeing aircraft, the USTR said. We will address the few still remaining points indicated by the report in our appeal.

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