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WTO Ruling 'Clear Win for Fair Trade': Boeing

The World Trade Organisation’s ruling that European subsidies for Airbus must end is “a clear, final win for fair trade,” the company’s main US competitor Boeing said today.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its international debut at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK in July.
Sharon Lorimer
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its international debut at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK in July.

The latest round in Boeing’s long-running dispute with Airbus saw both sides claiming victory after the World Trade Organization confirmed that the European aeroplane manufacturer received $18 billion in illegal "launch aid" and other subsidies from European governments.

That includes $15 billion in launch aid, including $4 billion for the flagship Airbus A380. It also includes $3 billion in non-launch aid subsidies, which exceeds the $2.7 billion of un-remedied U.S. subsidies to Boeing that the WTO identified in a separate ruling in March and that currently is under appeal.

In a release to the media, Jim McNerney, Boeing’s chairman, president and CEO, said that the ruling will “level the playing field for America`s aerospace workers."

In the same statement, Boeing General Counsel J. Michael Luttig rejected calls for a negotiated settlement, saying: "I understand why Airbus and its sponsor governments now want to negotiate. For 40 years they have relied on massive injections of launch aid, which today were confirmed to be illegal. We`re not interested in a settlement that would allow a continuation of illegal launch aid-the most pernicious, market-distorting subsidy of all."

The European company took comfort from the panel finding that the launch aid for Airbus's A380 aircraft did not constitute illegal export subsidies. The panel concluded that launch aid per se was not illegal, but it could be in certain circumstances.

"The U.S. central claim that Airbus received prohibited export subsidies has been dismissed in its entirety. In addition, a number of claims, relating to R&D and infrastructure among others, were either rejected or only partially accepted," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said.