EU Complains About WTO Boeing Ruling

European Union argues 10-month gap between separate WTO rulings over government subsidies to airplane makers Boeing and Airbus could damage chances of settlement.

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union complained Monday that a 10-month gap between separate World Trade Organization rulings over government subsidies to airplane manufacturers Boeing and Airbus could damage chances of a settlement.

EU spokeswoman Christiane Hohmann said the EU was concerned that the WTO would only rule on its complaint that the Pentagon and NASA are indirectly subsidizing Boeing Co. in June, ten months after its September ruling that European loans for Airbus were illegal subsidies.

Hohmann said the widening gap between the two rulings would "prove unhelpful if the EU and the U.S. arrive at a point where they wish to sit down and negotiate a solution."

She also said the two case are so similar that the WTO's appeals body should hear them both at the same time.

The WTO can allow a nation that has been harmed by unfair subsidies that damage trade to raise tariffs or impose other barriers to imports from an offending country or countries. In the Boeing case, that could see the U.S. impose charges on imports of French wines or Scottish sweaters.

Separately, the United States, European nations and other industrialized countries are in talks at the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development about reforming export credit rules for aircraft that currently classify large planes -- usually produced by Boeing and Airbus -- differently from smaller regional airplanes.

The outcome could affect Canada's plans to grant government export help to Bombardier Inc.'s new line of larger regional airplanes that compete with smaller models made by Boeing and Airbus.

Hohmann said the EU's 27 governments haven't yet agreed their position but were "in favor of reworking" the rules. She gave no details of what outcome they would seek.

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