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Dispute settlement | Brussels, 28 March 2019

EU scores final victory in the WTO Boeing dispute

The EU welcomes today’s ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Appellate Body, vindicating the EU’s long held position that the United States has taken no steps to comply with WTO rules on support to Boeing.

The ruling concludes definitively that the US has continued to subsidise the company illegally despite previous rulings condemning this behaviour. This has caused significant harm to its European competitor Airbus.

Today's ruling by the WTO's Appellate Body confirms the European Union's position that the United States has failed to remove the massive and trade distorting subsidies it is granting to Boeing. The WTO sided with the EU in its argument that several US measures, notably the Washington State tax programme and business incentives from South Carolina are in fact subsidies. The Appellate Body dismissed all of the US appeal points.

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: "Today's ruling is a welcome one for the EU, its aircraft-producing industry and workers across EU Member States in this strategic sector. The Appellate Body has now settled this case definitively, confirming our view the US has continued to subsidise Boeing despite WTO rulings to the contrary. We will continue to defend a level-playing field for our industry. European companies must be able to compete on fair and equal terms and today's ruling is important in this respect."

Significantly, the Appellate Body supported the EU claim that Boeing still benefits from an illegal tax concession granted by the US through an export support measure (through the Foreign Sales Corporation and Extraterritorial Income Exclusion, or FSC/ETI). This subsidy had already been qualified as prohibited at the first stages of the dispute. Prohibited subsidies are considered the most trade distortive category of subsidies and are illegal under WTO rules.

The Appellate Body also found that US subsidies to Boeing continue to cause severe damage to Airbus' market opportunities, notably in the form of lost sales.

In 2012 the WTO ruled that the United States had granted massive subsidies to Boeing in violation of WTO rules. Between 1989 and 2006 Boeing benefited from NASA, US Department of Defence and Washington State/Kansas subsidies totalling over $5 billion. The subsidies allowed Boeing to sell its aircraft more cheaply, to the detriment of Airbus.

Today's decision marks the final step in the compliance proceedings launched in 2012 in this long running dispute. The EU expects the United States to promptly comply with this final ruling.

For More Information

WTO Appellate Body Report

History of the case

WTO dispute settlement system