WTO members give green light for EU sanctions against US over Boeing aid

GENEVA: World Trade Organization (WTO) members gave the green light on Monday for Brussels to slap tariffs on US$4 billion (RM16.7 billion) in US imports annually in retaliation for illegal American aid to plane maker Boeing.

A WTO arbitrator had ruled on Oct 13 that the retaliatory sanctions were warranted, but the move needed to be approved by the organisation’s 164 member states before the European Union (EU) could go ahead.

During a meeting in Geneva on Monday, “WTO members approved the European Union’s request for authorisation to impose retaliatory measures against the United States for its failure to comply with the WTO ruling regarding US government subsidies for Boeing,” a WTO official said.

According to a list of targets seen by AFP, Brussels is expected to impose tariffs on a long line of imports, including aircraft made in the United States, along with tractors, sweet potatoes, peanuts, frozen orange juice, tobacco, ketchup and Pacific salmon.

Monday’s decision was the latest development in a 16-year saga between Washington and Brussels over support for their leading aircraft manufacturers. It mirrors WTO’s move a year ago to authorise a record US$7.5 billion in US sanctions against European goods.

Meanwhile, the United States on Monday told the WTO that it regretted the EU‘s decision to pursue retaliatory tariffs for Boeing subsidies, adding it favoured a “negotiated resolution” with the bloc over its subsidies to rival planemaker Airbus.

The US speech, seen by Reuters, came at a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) which gave its formal clearance for the EU to impose tariffs on US$4 billion of US goods.

“The United States strongly favours a negotiated resolution of its dispute with the EU over the massive launch aid subsidies it provided to Airbus. The United States has recently provided proposals for a reasonable settlement that would provide a level playing field,” the US delegation said. – AFP, Reuters

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