WTO says U.S. failed to halt state tax subsidy for Boeing

By Tom Miles and Tim Hepher GENEVA/PARIS (Reuters) - The World Trade Organization said on Thursday the United States had ignored its request to halt a subsidised tax break for Boeing in its main planemaking state of Washington as a 15-year-old transatlantic trade row edges towards tit-for-tat sanctions. The European Union said the WTO appeal ruling had vindicated its claims that Boeing continued to receive illegal subsidies, but the United States said only one measure, a Washington state tax break worth around $100 million annually, had been found still to violate the rules.

Reuters March 29, 2019 02:06:17 IST
WTO says U.S. failed to halt state tax subsidy for Boeing

WTO says US failed to halt state tax subsidy for Boeing

By Tom Miles and Tim Hepher

GENEVA/PARIS (Reuters) - The World Trade Organization said on Thursday the United States had ignored its request to halt a subsidised tax break for Boeing in its main planemaking state of Washington as a 15-year-old transatlantic trade row edges towards tit-for-tat sanctions.

The European Union said the WTO appeal ruling had vindicated its claims that Boeing continued to receive illegal subsidies, but the United States said only one measure, a Washington state tax break worth around $100 million annually, had been found still to violate the rules.

The trade powers have been battling since 2004 over mutual claims of illegal aid to plane giants Boeing and Airbus, with parallel cases generating thousands of pages of findings and dense litigation that put a burden on the already congested WTO.

Both sides have been caught paying billions of dollars of subsidies to gain advantage in the global jet business, and asked to stop or face potential sanctions. Thursday's appeal ruling showed that the United States did not stop all subsidies when asked to do so, echoing an earlier finding against the EU.

The WTO's Appellate Body, effectively the supreme court of world trade, ruled that the business and occupancy (B&O) tax rate reduction in Washington state had significantly cut Airbus sales in five particularly price-sensitive sales campaigns.

"The Appellate Body has now settled this case definitively, confirming our view the U.S. has continued to subsidise Boeing despite WTO rulings to the contrary," European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office called the ruling "a major win for the United States", since it had found only one illegal subsidy remaining after it had complied with earlier rulings. Boeing said it would support the new decision.

Any sanctions could broadly target industries beyond aerospace, but the impact of the record trade dispute on Boeing and Airbus themselves has so far been modest.

Analysts have long predicted the case would peter out or be settled without a trade war, but the prospect of retaliation is grabbing more attention than before amid global trade tensions.

COUNTERMEASURES

Airbus said Boeing still received a raft of support and urged the United States to negotiate a "fair-trade environment" - a settlement proposal that Washington has so far rejected.

In a technical point, it said the WTO had resurrected a wider group of U.S. subsidies which could be challenged later.

But Boeing said the slate had now been wiped clean of any unlawful subsidies in the United States, except for the Washington-state measure which it agreed would now be amended.

"We trust that our example will prompt Airbus and the European Union to immediately bring themselves into full compliance with the substantial rulings against these parties by the WTO," Boeing said in a statement.

In a parallel ruling last year, the WTO said the European Union had failed to remove illegal subsidies for two airplane programmes, the A350 and the A380 - the world's largest airliner which Airbus has since decided to stop building due to poor sales.

That part of the row simmers on as Airbus argues the case against European government loans for the A380 no longer counts because of its plans to shut production. The United States says the partly unpaid loans continue to damage Boeing indirectly.

The two sides are now in arbitration to decide the size of any countermeasures, starting with a U.S. request for authorisation to impose $11 billion in sanctions on EU goods.

(Reporting by Tom Miles and Tim Hepher, editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Toby Chopra)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.