The World Trade Organization has ruled that Boeing has received US government and state aid that violates international trade rules, according to press reports. It’s the latest salvo in the US-European Union trade dispute over large aircraft subsidies that some US lawmakers are trying to use—thus far unsuccessfully—to influence the outcome of the Air Force’s KC-X tanker contest between Boeing and EADS North America/Airbus. The new ruling deals with the EU’s 2007 counterclaim against the US’ 2004 complaint. Last June, WTO faulted European governments for improper subsidies to Airbus in its ruling on the US complaint. The WTO’s new findings won’t be publicly available until the spring, but Boeing and Airbus wasted no time in reacting. “[T]he WTO rejected almost all of Europe’s claims against the United States, including the vast majority of its [research and development] claims – except for some $2.6 billion,” reads Boeing’s statement. It continues, “Nothing in [the press] reports even begins to compare to the $20 billion in illegal subsidies that the WTO found last June that Airbus/EADS has received.” Conversely, “The myth that Boeing doesn’t receive government aid is over,” asserted Rainer Ohler, Airbus’ head of public affairs, in EADS’ release. (See Associated Press report and Reuters report) (Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) statement) (Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) statement)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.