WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Obama administration announced Thursday it has won an important victory in a World Trade Organization dispute with the European Union over subsidies to airplane manufacturer Airbus.
In June 2011, the WTO found that the EU and four of its member countries provided billions of dollars in subsidized financing to Airbus. While the EU subsequently claimed to have come into compliance, the United States disagreed and requested that a compliance panel intervene.
The Obama administration said the WTO panel confirmed the U.S. was correct. Plus, it said the panel found the EU had provided billions of dollars more in subsidies, causing lost sales worth tens of billions of dollars for Boeing Co.
"This is a huge victory for Northwest aerospace workers who have been building world-class airplanes for years," said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in a released statement. "With this decisive ruling, it is now time for the EU to come to the table and settle, rather than waiting for future tariffs. Without having to compete against illegal, market-distorting practices, Boeing should win more sales around the world."
United States Trade Representative Michael Froman says the panel's finding is "a sweeping victory for the United States and its aerospace workers." He called on the EU, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Spain "to respect WTO rules."
"We call on them to end subsidized financing of Airbus immediately," Froman said.
The Boeing Company is the only American producer of large civil aircraft and is the largest single U.S. exporter. Boeing has major facilities around the country, including in Washington and South Carolina. Members of the Washington congressional delegation joined the administration in hailing the ruling, which has the potential to result in tariffs that would likely cost Airbus market share.
During what has been a long-running dispute over subsidies for the aerospace industry, the WTO has also issued rulings over the years determining that Boeing was the recipient of banned federal and state support.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., called on the EU to come to the negotiating table and settle, rather than wait for future tariffs on Airbus planes.
"Without having to compete against illegal, market-distorting practices, Boeing should win more sales around the world," Cantwell said.
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