April 10, 2019 / 9:45 AM / 2 months ago

Airbus-Boeing trade war would benefit Chinese planemaker, France says

A man walks past an Airbus logo at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition in Langkawi, Malaysia March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Feline Lim

PARIS (Reuters) - An escalation in the subsidy row involving European planemaker Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing would be senseless and serve only to benefit an emerging Chinese competitor, France’s finance minister said on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump’s threat this week to impose tariffs on $11 billion worth of European Union products, including commercial aircraft, has deepened a long-running trans-Atlantic subsidy dispute.

The United States and Europe have been locked in a years-long spat over mutual claims of illegal aid to Airbus and Boeing to help them gain advantage in the world jet business.

“A clash between Boeing and Airbus would be absurd simply because our two industries are totally intertwined, we depend on each other for a number of components,” Bruno Le Maire said in remarks at the French Institute of Foreign Relations.

“A commercial war between Boeing and Airbus will only play into the hands of COMAC,” he added, referring to Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd.

COMAC is leading China’s push to become a global civil aerospace player. In November the company and Russia’s United Aircraft Corp unveiled a life-sized model of a proposed widebody longhaul jet, and in December COMAC’S C919 narrowbody passenger jet completed its first test flight.

Le Maire said Europe had the means to retaliate to any U.S. sanctions on EU goods, but added: “It is infinitely preferable that together with our U.S. allies we find the path toward a compromise.”

Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by David Holmes

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