EU, US extend talks on Airbus-Boeing subsidy row

7th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 6 (AFP) - The United States and the European Union agreed Monday to allow more time for talks to settle a row over government help to aircraft makers Boeing and Airbus but said arbitration by the WTO remained an option.

PARIS, Dec 6 (AFP) - The United States and the European Union agreed Monday to allow more time for talks to settle a row over government help to aircraft makers Boeing and Airbus but said arbitration by the WTO remained an option.

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and EU counterpart Peter Mandelson announced the decision following a meeting here, two months after the parties lodged separate complaints on the civil aviation subsidy question at the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation.

The United States contends that Airbus Industrie has benefited from government subsidies that violate international trade rules. The EU for its part maintains that it is Boeing that has received illegal susbsidies in the form of big contracts from US defense and space agencies.

US and EU officials had to decide by Monday whether to ask the WTO to name a panel to resolve the dispute or to carry on with discussions among themselves.

Mandelson said the two sides would continue talking over the next few weeks while retaining the option of WTO litigation.

"If we are going to avoid litigation in pursuit of the cases that both of us have now entered, we are going to have to have some pretty serious discussions about the alternative to that litigation," he told reporters.

"I am ... interested in seeing how we can resolve our differences through a proper set of negotiations.

"If it is not possible to do that, then the option to proceed with both (EU and US) cases exists. That option has not been excluded," he added.

Sepaking after his first meeting with Mandelson, the newly named EU trade czar, Zoellick agreed that "litigation is an option" and said the Bush Administration was well prepared for such an approach.

The two officials said their talks also dealt with the current round of multilateral trade liberalisation negotiations launched in November 2001 in the Qatari capital Doha and which have foundered ever since.

Mandelson said that on the issue of advancing the Doha round, the parties were determined to make headway. Zoellick added that he hoped 2005 would be a constructive year for the Doha initiative.

On the Boeing-Airbus controversy, a US official last week said the United States would delay a request for the formation of WTO dispute settlement panel to allow Mandelson time to review the matter.

"We will not be making a request to establish a WTO panel before the end of the year," the official told AFP.

"No one should doubt our resolve to press ahead with this case, (but) we want to give the new commissioner time to review the issues."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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