WTO rules European Union failed to stop subsidies on some Airbus aircraft

WTO rules EU failed to halt all Airbus subsidies

It is anticipated that US tariffs will be authorized up to the amount of annual harm this market-distorting tactic is causing. The Geneva-based WTO can't force nations or companies to drop payments that violate trade rules, but it can authorize retaliatory measures to pressure governments into complying with its rulings. After examining this case for more than a decade, the WTO has determined the European Union must end its unfair business practices and remedy the ongoing harm caused by the illegal subsidies.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement the United States would slap countermeasures on European goods unless the EU fell into line.

The decision Tuesday affirmed a ruling that European Union member states have failed to adequately remedy market-distorting aid for the launch of Airbus's A380 superjumbo, infrastructure support and equity investments that unfairly benefited the planemaker.

The WTO appellate body upheld the compliance panel's finding in 2016 that Airbus paid a lower interest rate on financing for the development of its latest aircraft, the A350, than it would have obtained on the commercial market, and that this below-cost financing provided by the French, German, Spanish and United Kingdom governments provided a benefit to Airbus that constituted subsidies.

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Airbus said in a statement released after the WTO ruling that it would take steps to ensure the aid complies with the decision, and predicted any eventual sanctions would be minor.

The EU appears set to argue that the only penalty it should face would be on the difference between the market rate for the financing, and the rate that Airbus actually received from the EU.

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem insisted that the ruling also rejected "the vast majority" of U.S. claims against it, while saying in a statement that the bloc "will now take swift action to ensure it is fully in line with the WTO's final decision in this case".

On today's ruling, both manufacturers are claiming victory. "The commercial success of products and services should be driven by their merits and not by market-distorting actions", said Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg.

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