U.S. says receives Airbus A350 loan funding documents

Sat Oct 6, 2012 4:38pm EDT
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By Andrea Shalal-Esa and Tim Hepher

WASHINGTON/PARIS (Reuters) - The U.S. government said on Saturday it had received European Union documents on funding for the Airbus EAD.PA A350 after requesting them from the World Trade Organization over a month ago in an ongoing transatlantic dispute over aircraft subsidies.

"The compliance panel directed the EU to provide documents and briefing upon a request made by the United States more than a month ago, and we received the documents just yesterday," a spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative's Office said.

It is the first time the funding of Europe's answer to the Boeing (BA.N: Quote) 787 Dreamliner, due to make its maiden flight next year, has been drawn directly into the world's largest trade dispute but it remains to be seen how the WTO will act on the data.

Both sides are pressing for major trade sanctions after the Geneva-based WTO found that Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing had benefited from billions of dollars of unfair subsidies in a pair of trade complaints now in their ninth year.

Washington has called on Airbus to stop receiving loans from its host European nations - Britain, France, Germany and Spain - and argues that the WTO should take loans for the A350 into account when evaluating penalties for earlier support.

The EU says the carbon-composite jet lies outside the case and that its funding will comply with the latest WTO decisions.

A U.S. source told Reuters that outside estimates placed the loans paid to Airbus for the A350 at around $4.5 billion.

According to the U.S. source, who asked not to be identified, the A350 funding numbers were supplied on Friday as part of a WTO compliance procedure. Both sides claim to have obeyed WTO rules while saying their adversaries have not.   Continued...

A model of an Airbus A350 passenger plane is displayed at a news conference in Hong Kong, March 7, 2011. REUTERS/Bobby Yip