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Boeing-Airbus talks underway at WTO

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Boeing-Airbus talks underway at WTO

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At the World Trade Organisation headquarters in Geneva the first clashes are underway in the major air war between Airbus and Boeing. Legal teams from the United States and the European Union are meeting on Thursday and Friday. This follows the complaints brought by both, each claiming that the other’s plane-makers have recieved unfair subsidies. Washington says Airbus, which is co-owned by the Europeean company EADS and Britain’s BAE Systems, got around 2.5 billion euros of illegal help for its new A380 superjumbo plane.

Boeing stands accused of receiving nearly 18 billion euros over the last 12 years, including tax breaks from Washington state for it to build its 7E7 plane there. It is possible they could negotiate a settlement without asking World Trade Organisation judges to rule on their respective cases. There has been speculation the US started this action for political reasons in the run-up to the US election and, now that George Bush has won a second term, his trade representatives might be prepared to settle the dispute. Europe only brought its case after Washington made the first move. If both press ahead and both lose they face the threat of billions of euros in sanctions.