A WTO ruling on aircraft subsidies raises the risk of a tariff war

A WTO ruling on aircraft subsidies raises the risk of a tariff war

THE manufacture of airliners may be the world’s most globalised industry. Only two firms make big civil jets: Boeing of America and Airbus of Europe. Most of their revenues—55% for Boeing and 70% for Airbus—are earned outside their home territory. Both source parts from dozens of countries. But a ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on subsidies in the industry could deal another blow to the beleaguered international trading system.

On May 15th the WTO’s final appeals body upheld parts of a previous ruling, finding that the European Union wrongly provided subsidies to Airbus to develop new aircraft. That, it concluded, had hit sales of Boeing’s jets. As soon as the WTO gives the go-ahead America will have the right to impose retaliatory tariffs on EU imports. Trade experts warn they could be the highest in the WTO’s history.

Boeing crowed that the ruling showed that the EU had given $22bn in “illegal subsidies” to Airbus. But Tom Enders, Airbus’s chief executive,…Continue reading

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