US and EU dig in on dispute over Airbus subsidies at WTO

US and EU dig in on dispute over Airbus subsidies at WTO

The European Union told the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday that it had acted to ensure Airbus, the European multinational aircraft maker, met WTO rules, a trade official told Reuters, though the U.S. immediately cast doubt on that assertion after a series of rulings have cast doubt on previous claims.

On May 15, the WTO had ruled that the EU had a subsidies program that hurt U.S. plane manufacturer Boeing — and would have to change the subsidies or face tariffs on European products.

The EU said it had fixed the longstanding subsidies issue in the Airbus case to meet the WTO’s ruling, but the U.S. expressed skepticism about the EU’s assertion at a WTO meeting on Monday.

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Under WTO rules, the U.S. now has the right to ask the WTO to set certain sanctions against the EU.

“To be clear, the U.S. preferred outcome is a mutually agreed solution with respect to aircraft financing,” a U.S. official reportedly said at the meeting. “The United States remains ready to hold serious discussions to achieve this goal.”

The EU has also targeted the U.S. in a WTO complaint that alleges it supported Boeing over Airbus.

There are concerns that the cases could lead to a trans-Atlantic sanctions battle.

The U.S. official told Reuters that the U.S. wants to agree to a deal to avoid sanctions but noted it is prepared to take countermeasures on EU products if prompted.

“But in our view, what is needed to resolve this dispute is not more WTO litigation but a real desire to resolve this dispute,” the U.S. official said.

An Airbus spokesperson welcomed the idea of a settlement.

“Airbus and the EU have always been open to sit down and discuss a settlement with everything on the table and without any preconditions,” she said.