Q : Yesterday, Washington threatened the EU that it would impose higher duties on Airbus and other European products if Brussels did not put an end to certain subsidies to the aircraft manufacturer. In a communiqué, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer claims that European subsidies to Airbus inflict $11 billion (€9.76 billion) worth of damage on U.S. trade every year and says he is ready to take action.
Could you comment on these threats? What will France do if they are implemented?
A : We take note of the announcement by the U.S. trade representative regarding the launch of a process under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. This process is aimed at identifying European products to which additional duties may be applied.
This is an anticipated step in the reciprocal dispute on subsidies provided to the aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing that has been referred to the World Trade Organization by the United States and the EU.
According to the announcement, the U.S. plans to prepare counter-measures that the arbitrator designated by the WTO will define in a few months. France stresses in this regard that only the arbitrator designated by the WTO is authorized to estimate the amount of the counter-measures that can be proposed.
The European Commission is also preparing counter-measures, and on March 28, the WTO’s appeals body handed down a decision favorable to the EU in this reciprocal dispute.
France supports the efforts of the European Commission, which is defending European interests in these proceedings, and reaffirms its preference for discussions that can bring an end to disputes and avoid reciprocal trade sanctions.