WTO to issue ruling on tit-for-tat Airbus-Boeing case

15th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

The World Trade Organization will hand down on Wednesday a preliminary ruling to the European Union and the United States on their bruising dispute over multi-billion dollar US state support for Boeing.

The much-awaited ruling on the tit-for-tat dispute comes a year after the WTO issued a similar confidential interim ruling which condemned Brussels for providing subsidies to Airbus.

Diplomatic sources said that the WTO's decision on Wednesday is likely to bring a balance to the bitter dispute.

"This report should rebalance the situation," said a diplomat, who declined to be named.

Brussels had brought the case to the WTO on October 6, 2004, on the same day Washington had complaint against EU subsidies to Airbus. It was therefore frustrated with the time lag between the rulings on the two cases.

An Airbus spokeswoman said that the interim report could herald a negotiated settlement to the long-running dispute between the two companies.

"Airbus is looking forward to see the European Union case finally moving forward," said Airbus spokeswoman Maggie Bergsma ahead of the ruling. "We expect the WTO to confirm that Boeing received billions of illegal subsidies."

The interim verdict, which is only issued to parties concerned, is however expected to be mixed.

"It would possibly be a rather mixed and rather complicated ruling," said the diplomat.

The EU complaint accuses Washington of violating international trade rules by funnelling subsidies to civil aviation through military research funds.

About 23 billion dollars of subsidies were masked as defence research, Brussels claimed.

Under WTO rules, the interim ruling is meant to be held confidential until the global trade body publishes the full report by its panel of dispute settlement arbitrators.


© 2010 AFP

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