Were They Reading the Same Verdict?

  • David Harris
  • March 26, 2010
  • Archive

Everybody is familiar with the “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus” line, but after seeing their respective responses to the WTO decision on subsidies for new aircraft programs, I wonder if “Airbus is from Saturn and Boeing is from Jupiter” might not be more appropriate.

In 2006, the US filed a case with the World Trade Organization alleging that EU countries were providing illegal subsidies (in the form of reiimbursable loans) to Airbus to aid the planemaker in developing new aircraft, therefore giving it an unfair advantage over US-based Boeing.After several years of rumination, the WTO made its final ruling this week and sent a confidential copy to the governments of the US and EU. Almost immediately, both Boeing and Airbus issued statements proclaiming victory – never mind that neither of them has actually seen the verdict.

Boeing said reports indicated: “that the United States has prevailed on all of the major issues in the WTO’s final decision,” and urged Airbus and the EU governments not to use this form of launch aid for the A350, but rather to “change course and fully comply with the WTO’s clear ruling.”

For its part, Airbus said “70% of the US claims were
rejected” by the WTO, that the reimbursable loan mechanism was “confirmed to bea legal and compliant instrument of partnership between government and industry,”and that “”future funding for the A350 is not affected in any way by today’sreport,” because “US attempts to include the A350 were specifically rejected.”

We anxiously await the opportunity to read the WTO’s actual ruling, which will not be made public for at least several more weeks.

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