WTO ruling: Billions in Boeing subsidies distort competition

WTO ruling: Billions in Boeing subsidies distort competition
31 January 2011 Press Release

Today’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) decision confirms that Boeing has received massive and illegal government subsidies for many decades, and that they have had a significant and ongoing negative effect on European industry.

The final WTO-report to be publicly released in a few weeks can be expected to say:

1. Boeing would not have been able to launch the 787 without illegal subsidies.
2. Boeing has received at least $5 billion of US taxpayer dollars which has been determined illegal.  Quantification of the additional subsides beyond this figure will take place in later stages of this dispute if Boeing chooses to pursue it.
3. An additional more than $2 billion in state and local subsidies that Boeing will receive in the future are illegal.
4. The effect of the subsidies is significantly larger than the face value of the subsidies in light of their particularly pervasive nature.
5. The pervasive subsidies have thoroughly distorted competition within the aviation industry, directly resulting in significant harm to the European aerospace industry.
6. The effect of these subsidies will continue in the future, putting Airbus at a significant disadvantage.
In concluding that Department of Defense (DoD) and NASA funding are illegal subsidies, the WTO decision will require fundamental changes to the US funding mechanisms.

The WTO decision will also confirm that Washington State and the City of Everett must stop subsidising Boeing. Unless stopped, these subsidies will increase annually through 2024. 

The WTO can be expected to say that the billions in subsidies benefiting Boeing have a significantly greater distortive effect than the Reimbursable Loans to Airbus. Airbus estimates at least $45 billion as a realistic figure based on identified lost sales to Airbus as a result from the subsidies. Taking the cases together, the WTO will be seen to now have specifically green-lighted the continued use of loans in Europe and commanded Boeing to end its illegal R&D cash support from NASA, DoD and the US taxpayers.

“Airbus applauds the excellent result achieved by the European Commission and the Member States. From today, Boeing can no longer pretend that it doesn’t benefit from generous and illegal state subsidies. It has been doing so from the start and it’s time to stop the denial,” said Rainer Ohler, Airbus’ Head of Public Affairs and Communications. “We expect the WTO dispute to carry on for several more years and as in all trade conflicts, a resolution will only be reached through negotiations. The myth that Boeing doesn’t receive government aid is over and we hope this sets the tone for balanced and productive negotiations going forward.”