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WTO compliance panel sides with Boeing in Airbus spat

A compliance panel of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has found European plane maker Airbus has kept receiving illegal subsidies from some EU member countries. The funding dealt a blow to US rival Boeing.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) said Thursday the European Union's so-called "launch aid" loans provided for the development of Airbus fleets had been a "genuine and substantial" cause of significant lost sales for its US competitor Boeing.

As early as June 2011, the WTO found that the EU and four of its member countries had provided billions of dollars in subsidized financing to Airbus. While Brussels claimed the EU had subsequently stopped that practice, the US disagreed and requested a compliance panel to intervene.

That panel confirmed Thursday the US administration had every reason to nurture doubts. WTO officials said the panel found the EU had provided billions of dollars more in illegal subsidies, thus harming Boeing's sales business.

Unambiguous ruling

US Trade Representative Michael Froman said the panel's finding was "a sweeping victory for the United States and its aerospace workers," and called on Germany, France, Britain and Spain to finally respect WTO rules.

Watch video 01:03

WTO rules against EU-Airbus subsidies

"We call on them to end subsidized financing of Airbus immediately," Froman said in a statement.

Members of the Washington congressional delegation joined the administration in hailing the ruling, which experts said had the potential of resulting in tariffs that would likely cost Airbus market share.

Senators urged the EU to come to the negotiating table and settle the dispute, rather than wait for future tariffs on Airbus planes.

Airbus itself insisted it had conformed with most WTO commitments and indicated it would appeal the ruling of the WTO compliance panel.

hg/uhe (AP, Reuters)

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