Boeing found harmed by Airbus aid, exposing European Union to USA sanctions

It is the latest in a string of tussles between Europe’s Airbus and US rival Boeing

A WTO appellate body found that the European Union and four of its member countries - the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain - didn't comply with prior rulings over subsidies, which gave Airbus an unfair advantage on the world market and hurt US -based Boeing.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Boeing said Airbus provided more than $22 billion in illegal subsidies, and until its European rival addresses those damages, "it is anticipated that USA tariffs will be authorized up to the amount of annual harm this market-distorting tactic is causing".

The WTO dismissed an appeal by Airbus saying, the European plane maker had failed to fix the harm done to Boeing.

"Today's final ruling sends a clear message: Disregard for the rules and illegal subsidies is not tolerated", said Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

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At the same time, the WTO is close to finalizing a similarly drawn-out case against subsidies for Boeing, and Airbus says this could in turn spark European Union sanctions against the United States.

"The commercial success of products and services should be driven by their merits and not by market-distorting actions".

The tariffs could be scheduled as early as 2019 and would likely be the largest-ever WTO authorization of retaliatory tariffs, Boeing said.

Deciding on a case first opened in 2004, the appellate body found Airbus paid a lower interest rate on financing to develop the A350XWB aircraft than it would have gotten in the open market.

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Airbus said in a statement released after the WTO ruling that it would take steps to ensure the aid complies with the decision, and predicted any eventual sanctions would be minor. The decision means the USA can now ask an arbitrator to determine how much it can retaliate against the European bloc for failing to comply - raising a new question about how much Washington may recover from the EU through retaliatory tariffs.

Airbus shares fell shortly after the WTO issued its findings and were poised to close down around 0.86 per cent.

The trade court in September ruled in Boeing's favor in another case brought by the European Union, overturning an earlier finding that $8.7 billion in state aid to Boeing for making the 777X in Washington was a prohibited subsidy.

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