Airbus aid acceptable, WTO rules

A WORLD Trade Organisation (WTO) appeal panel said launch aid worth billions of euros for Airbus’ A380 was legal under global trade rules.

In a bitter decade-long battle Boeing’s latest claim was that Airbus received prohibited export subsidies.

“The central US claim has been dismissed in its entirety,” Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner, said.

The panel did however uphold an earlier decision by the WTO that Airbus had benefited from government support, which caused Boeing to lose aircraft sales.

The dispute between the US and Europe involves a counter-claim by Airbus that US subsidies for Boeing distorted the commercial airline market. For years, Boeing has held to the belief that without state aid, Airbus would not have overtaken it in 2003 as the world’s largest aircraft maker.

The Americans claimed that the WTO panel had confirmed that support to Airbus broke trade rules and should be rectified. Boeing chairman, Jim McNerney, said an earlier ruling that the European group had received illegal subsidies worth £11 billion (US$17.9 billion) had been upheld. “This is a clear, final win that will level the playing field for America’s aerospace workers. The WTO has concluded that launch aid and other illegal Airbus subsidies harmed US industry.”

The EU will study the panel’s report before deciding its next step on the legality of the economic impact of subsidies.

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