PARIS Jan 25 Airbus and Boeing traded blows on
Tuesday ahead of a final World Trade Organization ruling on
claims Boeing received subsidies, in a tit-for-tat case brought
by the European Union over similar U.S. claims against Airbus.
An Airbus EAD.PA spokeswoman said in a statement that the
report, which sources close to the case expect to be distributed
to the parties on Jan. 31, would confirm Boeing (BA.N) got
"massive illegal subsidies" from research grants.
The European planemaker also predicted these would be found
to be more harmful than contested European loans to Airbus.
"We expect at least $45 billion as a realistic figure for
retaliation," she said by email, without elaborating on what
form of retaliation this might entail.
A spokesman for Boeing said illegal European subsidies to
Airbus which the WTO has already identified in a previous case
"dwarf" those at issue in the European counter-suit.
"There is no comparison between the over $20 billion in
subsidies that the WTO said Airbus received, and the less than
$3 billion that the WTO is reported to have found in a
preliminary ruling against the US," the spokesman said by email.
The report, which will not be made public for several weeks,
is the latest round of legal ping-pong between the European
Union and United States over mutual claims their aircraft
industries have been unfairly shielded from competition.
The EU claimed victory after a confidential interim report
found in September that Airbus EAD.PA rival Boeing had
received several billion dollars of aid, but the two sides
disagreed publicly over the severity of the judgment.
That ruling followed WTO condemnation last June of illegal
European subsidies for Airbus, mostly in the form of government
launch-aid loans. These findings came in an earlier case brought
by the United States, which is now the subject of appeal.
The transatlantic subsidy row is the biggest bilateral
dispute ever at the Geneva-based trade body
(Editing by Hans Peters)