Boeing dismisses EU bid for aircraft subsidy talks

Boeing on Monday ridiculed a European offer to negotiate an end to its aircraft subsidies trade war with the United States, citing the EU's failure to comply a WTO ruling.

Recent Airbus and European suggestions that differences could be ironed out in talks with no preconditions are "risible," Boeing spokesman Charlie Miller told journalists.

The United States and the European Union have been engaged in a long-running battle over state subsidies to their respective aircraft giants, Boeing and Airbus, at the World Trade Organization.

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Both sides say in separate, parallel WTO cases that the rival aircraft maker has enjoyed public financing that violates WTO regulations and distorts fair competition in the industry.

The Europeans' "sudden desire" to get around the table "is only too obvious when clearly they have lost," Miller said.

An Airbus spokeswoman, in response to Miller's comments, said the US had "offered to negotiate after unilaterally abandoning a 1992 agreement and demanding the EU abandon its reimbursable advance financing," a condition Airbus refused.

The war of words came ahead of a WTO ruling on whether or not to uphold a previous ruling in favor of the European Union.

Sources close to the matter said the trade body would issue the ruling Wednesday on Washington's appeal of a WTO finding that supported an EU complaint alleging illegal US subsidies to Boeing.

In March 2011, the Geneva-based WTO ruled that Boeing had received $5.3 billion in illegal aid.

In the separate US complaint against the EU, the Geneva-based WTO in May gave Brussels six months to comply with findings that $18 billion in subsidies from EU member states, including aid for Airbus to develop new aircraft -- "launch aid" -- incompatible with certain specific criteria.

In a filing made on the December 1 deadline, the European Union claimed that it had complied with the WTO ruling.

But Washington charges that the EU had not met the requirements of the WTO ruling, and on December 9 threatened to impose sanctions in retaliation, in a range of $7-10 billion a year.

A US source close to the situation said that Washington was "likely" to seek WTO approval for sanctions against the EU "within the next few weeks."

by Sardar Ahmad © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Feb 27, 2012