WTO gives final approval to US retaliation in Airbus case

An Airbus A330neo is pictured on its final assembly line at Airbus headquarters in Colomiers, near Toulouse November 26, 2018. — Reuters pic
An Airbus A330neo is pictured on its final assembly line at Airbus headquarters in Colomiers, near Toulouse November 26, 2018. — Reuters pic

GENEVA, Oct 14 — The World Trade Organisation today gave the United States final authorisation to impose tariffs on EU products in retaliation for illegal subsidies given to Airbus, in a widely expected procedural move. 

Earlier this month, a WTO arbitrator gave Washington the green light to slap tariffs on US$7.5 billion (RM31.3 billion) worth of European Union imports, a landmark moment in the 15-year legal battle between Airbus and American planemaker Boeing. 

The arbitrator’s award — the largest in the organisation’s history — needed to be rubber-stamped by the WTO’s Dispute Settle Body (DSB). 

That final authorisation was granted at a special DSB meeting today, according to a Geneva trade official. 

Washington has said the tariffs, which may target a range of consumer products including French wine, could be in place by Friday. 

But EU officials have indicated that they are trying to reach a negotiated settlement with the US, to avoid escalating trade tensions that risk battering economies across the globe.

If those negotiations fail to produce a deal, Brussels will get the chance to impose its own WTO-approved tariffs on US products, after convincing WTO judges that Boeing had benefited from illegal US government subsidies. 

An arbitrators award in that case is due in 2020. — AFP

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