WTO gives final approval to US retaliation in Airbus case

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Published: October 14, 2019 2:53:17 PM

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

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.

The World Trade Organisation on Monday 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 USD 7.5 billion (6.8 billion euros) 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 on Monday, 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.

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