The European Commission (EC) has launched a public consultation on a preliminary list of US exports that could be subject to tariffs in the latest stage of the Airbus-Boeing subsidies saga.

The consultation will last until May 31. 

In a statement issued April 17, the EC noted the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) final compliance report in the Boeing dispute, confirming that US subsidies to Boeing continue to cause significant harm to Airbus, including lost sales.

The EC’s consultation aims to gather feedback from stakeholders who may be affected by the planned measures. 

“European companies must be able to compete on fair and equal terms,” EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström said. “The recent WTO ruling on US subsidies for Boeing is important in this respect. We must continue to defend a level-playing field for our industry. But let me be clear, we do not want a tit-for-tat.

“While we need to be ready with countermeasures in case there is no other way out, I still believe that dialogue is what should prevail between important partners such as the EU and the US, including in bringing an end to this long-standing dispute. 

“The EU remains open for discussions with the US, provided these are without preconditions and aim at a fair outcome.”

The preliminary list published April 17 covers a range of items, from aircraft to chemicals and agri-food products ranging from frozen fish and citrus fruits to ketchup, that overall represent around $20 billion of US exports to the EU. At an earlier stage of the dispute in 2012, the statement noted “the EU made a request to the WTO to authorize the adoption of countermeasures worth up to $12 billion, equivalent to the estimated damage caused to Airbus by US support to Boeing.

“Based on this request, it is however for a WTO appointed arbitrator to determine the exact appropriate level of countermeasures. The EU is taking steps towards requesting the arbitrator to resume its work. A final list, based on the products included in today’s list, will be drawn up by the EU taking into account the arbitrator’s decision in the near future.”

Alan Dron