The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has reportedly found that Boeing has received billions in state subsidies which helped to finance the development of new aircraft, once again inflaming the ongoing row between Europe and the US over commercial airliner subsidies.
Although the confidential report from the WTO has only just been handed to European and US trade officials, various media reports claim that it found that Boeing had received de facto subsidies through various tax breaks and US government contracts. The allegations were originally brought by the EU as a counterclaim to the US’s complaint regarding launch aid and other subsidies given to Airbus for the launch of the A380 and other aircraft programs.
“Without going into detail … [the report] condemned the massive subsidies received by Boeing that violate WTO rules,” said France’s Transport Minister Jean-Louis Borloo and Environment Minister Dominique Bussereau in a joint statement. “This report thus sets the record straight a few months after another [WTO] panel concluded that there are European subsidies for Airbus.”
Despite the apparent blow, Boeing responded by claiming that its subsidies were not as major as those granted to Airbus. “If today’s reports are accurate that some $3 billion of the EU’s claims were upheld by the WTO, excluding the claims that relate to past programs long ago remedied by Congress, then the ruling amounts to a massive rejection of the EU case and confirms that European launch aid to Airbus stands as the single largest and most flagrant illegal subsidy in the aerospace industry,” the company said in a statement.
It appears that despite the rhetoric that the US and EU may now engage with each other over how to remedy the subsidy row, with Airbus calling for negotiations to end the long running confrontation. “It’s only when we stop these contentious suits and start negotiations that we’ll be able to define new equitable rules of the game which will govern the future of the world’s aerospace industry,” it said in a statement.