Airbus, Boeing clash ahead of WTO verdict

By Reuters
Posted Jan. 25 at 12:29 p.m.

irbus and Boeing traded blows on Tuesday ahead of a final World Trade Organization ruling on claims Boeing received subsidies, in a tit-for-tat case brought by the European Union over similar U.S. claims against Airbus.

An Airbus spokeswoman said in a statement that the report, which sources close to the case expect to be distributed to the parties on Jan. 31, would confirm Boeing got “massive illegal subsidies” from research grants.

The European planemaker also predicted these would be found to be more harmful than contested European loans to Airbus.

“We expect at least $45 billion as a realistic figure for retaliation,” she said by email, without elaborating on what form of retaliation this might entail.

A spokesman for Boeing said illegal European subsidies to Airbus which the WTO has already identified in a previous case “dwarf” those at issue in the European counter-suit.

“There is no comparison between the over $20 billion in subsidies that the WTO said Airbus received, and the less than $3 billion that the WTO is reported to have found in a preliminary ruling against the US,” the spokesman said by email.

The report, which will not be made public for several weeks, is the latest round of legal ping-pong between the European Union and United States over mutual claims their aircraft industries have been unfairly shielded from competition.

The EU claimed victory after a confidential interim report found in September that Airbus rival Boeing had received several billion dollars of aid, but the two sides disagreed publicly over the severity of the judgment.

That ruling followed WTO condemnation last June of illegal European subsidies for Airbus, mostly in the form of government launch-aid loans. These findings came in an earlier case brought by the United States, which is now the subject of appeal.

The transatlantic subsidy row is the biggest bilateral dispute ever at the Geneva-based trade body

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