"Airbus and Boeing excel in the endless game of the goatee"

The WTO allows Washington to impose $ 7.5 billion in tariffs on European imports. A bidding war that could harm the industry on both sides of the Atlantic, says Philippe Escande, editorialist at the "World".

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Chronic. Since they face each other, these two excellent in the interminable game of the goatee. I hold you, you hold me … No other rival on long-haul aviation, they look for products and customers, but also on the green carpet. For fifteen years, Boeing has officially criticized its competitor for having benefited from generous subsidies from the European Union. Deposited in 2004 before the World Trade Organization (WTO), the case finds its outcome today. Washington is allowed to recover 7.5 billion dollars (6.8 billion euros) loss of earnings.

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Without delay, the White House, usually so critical of the WTO, accepts arbitration and has published a baroque list where night shirts, cashmere sweaters, olives, wine, parmesan … and especially the airplanes, taxed up to 10%. On his American lands, Boeing is setting his opponent and the trade war between the two shores of the Atlantic reaches new heights.

However, it will be necessary to hurry to drink the champagne of the victory, because the European camp retains its riposte. Nine months after the US, the Europeans filed their own complaint to the WTO, suspecting Boeing of being supported by the public, thanks to generous contracts with the national defense. The decision of the WTO, which has already acknowledged the fault, should therefore fall in 2020 and be counted also in billions of dollars.

The two old foes shoot each other in the foot

The case is so burlesque. The two old enemies look into each other's eyes and shoot each other in the foot. The reason is that they find a compromise. This is the hope of Airbus and Europeans, who proposed a mediation in July. Washington leaves the door open. But the nationalist rhetoric of the Trump team is too powerful. What does it matter if Airbus has made the effort to establish two factories in the United States, which is not the case for Boeing on the Old Continent, we must make throats of these damn Europeans. On airplanes, on cars, on wine, on everything!

There are two reasons why the US authorities should be cautious. The first is purely commercial. US airlines currently have orders for nearly 700 Airbus aircraft, while their European counterparts are waiting for approximately 900 Boeing aircraft to be delivered. If substantial customs duties are imposed on both sides, a good portion of these orders will fall into the water, penalizing both manufacturers and customers. In addition, Boeing and Airbus value chains are largely global, with subcontractors in all countries. Airbus buys $ 40 billion worth of US components and Boeing does the same in Europe. Destroying them so brutally will permanently affect the global industry.


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