* U.S. points to subsidy accusation against Airbus
* Kirk says decision on sanctions against EU to come later
By Andrew Stern
CHICAGO, April 14 The U.S. Trade Representative
left little doubt on Thursday that the Obama administration
would appeal a World Trade Organization ruling that Boeing
(BA.N) received illegal government subsidies.
Ron Kirk promised to "protect our interests" when asked on
the sidelines of a speech in Chicago whether the administration
would appeal the March 31 ruling that Boeing received at least
$5.3 billion in illegal subsidies in the long-running dispute.
"We don't discuss our legal strategies in the WTO but we
are examining that role and making sure we protect our
interests," Kirk told reporters. "If you look at the fairly
aggressive posture we've taken over the last 14 years, I think
you can draw a reasonable conclusion" about an appeal of the
Kirk emphasized that the WTO had ruled previously that
Boeing rival Airbus EAD.PA had received at least $20 billion
in illegal subsidies, a ruling that both sides have appealed.
Analysts have anticipated a U.S. appeal of the Boeing
ruling, which the European Commission hailed as a "clear-cut
victory." Europe also appealed because it believes the
subsidies to be higher.
The United States was unlikely to accept the Boeing
decision to put pressure on the European Union to accept the
Airbus ruling, the analysts said.
Looking ahead, Kirk said any decision on imposing trade
sanctions on EU goods would come later, likely after the
appeals process plays out and the EU weighs its options.
Alternatively, the EU could institute a "cure" to the subsidy
problem, he said.
The WTO appellate body is expected to issue its decision in
the Airbus case in late April, although decision dates
frequently slip at the WTO.
Once that ruling comes, the United States will have a
timing advantage in the dispute because the EU could soon face
U.S. retaliation if it does not move quickly to eliminate any
subsidies left standing by the appellate review.
Many analysts believe the two sides will eventually
negotiate a settlement, rather than hurl sanctions potentially
affecting billions of dollars and possibly setting off a trade
A deal also would bolster U.S. ties with Europe at a time
when both face increased competition from emerging economies
such as China, India and Brazil.
"A negotiated resolution would be the best thing," Kirk
said. "But we will not yield on our position that the European
Union has to allow Airbus to go out and compete on commercially
(Additional reporting by Doug Palmer in Washington; Editing
by Bill Trott)