WTO Upholds Criticism of U.S. Aid to Boeing

U.S. support of Boeing harms Airbus, says panel

EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said on Jan. 31 that a WTO probe into the legality of support provided to aircraft maker Boeing by the United States found "negative consequences" for EU rival Airbus.

"We welcome the WTO panel's confirmation of its initial findings regarding the support provided to Boeing by the U.S. government," De Gucht said in a statement released by Brussels as the World Trade Organization issued its confidential report to the parties.

"This solid report sheds further light on the negative consequences for the EU industry of these U.S. subsidies and provides a timely element of balance in this long-running dispute," he added.

The Geneva-based trade referee is already hearing an appeal by both sides against another ruling last June that partially upheld a U.S. complaint on $18 billion in EU subsidies for Airbus.

The verdict on the European complaint against an alleged $24 billion in public aid for Boeing sees Washington and the 27-nation European Union edge towards closure, and a possible negotiated settlement, on a battle over subsidies for large civil aircraft stretching back to 2004.

Under WTO rules, both sides are meant to keep the conclusions under wraps for about three more months.

Following interim findings released to the two sides last September, Airbus indicated it expected the WTO to award the European Union $45 billion in compensation over "illegal aid" for its U.S. rival.

Boeing rejected that claim as "simply ridiculous," as the two rivals continued their war of words.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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