WTO members greenlight EU sanctions against US over Boeing aid

A file photo dated 3 June 2011 showing an Airbus A380 (L) behind a Boeing 787 plane's vertical tail during a demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show 2011 at Le Bourget, Paris, France. [EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT]

World Trade Organisation members gave the green light Monday (26 October) for Brussels to slap tariffs on $4.0 billion in US imports annually in retaliation for illegal American aid to plane maker Boeing.

A WTO arbitrator had ruled on October 13 that the retaliatory sanctions were warranted, but the move needed to be approved by the organisation’s 164 member states before the European Union could go ahead.

During a meeting in Geneva on Monday, “WTO members approved the European Union’s request for authorisation to impose retaliatory measures against the United States for its failure to comply with the WTO ruling regarding US government subsidies for Boeing,” a WTO official said.

According to a list of targets seen by AFP, Brussels is expected to impose tariffs on a long line of imports, including aircraft made in the United States, along with tractors, sweet potatoes, peanuts, frozen orange juice, tobacco, ketchup and Pacific salmon.

WTO authorises EU tariffs on $4 billion of US goods over Boeing dispute

The World Trade Organisation authorised on Tuesday (13 October) the EU to impose tariffs on US exports worth $4 billion in compensation for the subsidies given to Boeing by Washington. 

The US on Monday told the WTO that it regretted the EU’s decision to pursue retaliatory tariffs for Boeing subsidies, adding it favoured a “negotiated resolution” with the bloc.

“The United States strongly favours a negotiated resolution of its dispute with the EU over the massive launch aid subsidies it provided to Airbus. The United States has recently provided proposals for a reasonable settlement that would provide a level playing field,” the US delegation said.

Monday’s decision was the latest development in a 16-year saga between Washington and Brussels over support for their leading aircraft manufacturers.

It mirrors WTO’s move a year ago to authorise a record $7.5 billion in US sanctions against European goods.

Few analysts expect the EU to act before US presidential elections next week.

Airbus and EU see end to US subsidies spat with final concessions

Aerospace giant Airbus announced on Friday (24 July) that it has made changes to existing aircraft contracts in order to come into line with a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling on subsidies. The firm and the EU both insist that it “removes any justification for US tariffs”.

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