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EU Says U.S. Withholding Boeing Data

January 27, 2006|From Bloomberg News

The European Union accused the United States on Thursday of obstructing its efforts to gather data on American state and federal subsidies to Boeing Co. and filed a new complaint with the World Trade Organization.

A year after the U.S. and the EU began countersuits at the WTO against development subsidies to Boeing and European plane maker Airbus, the two sides said in September that they had agreed on how to share data to build their legal cases. The EU says that process has broken down because the U.S. has "unilaterally determined" that some of its payments fall outside the EU's complaint.

"This has seriously undermined the due process rights of the EU and its ability to prepare its case" against the U.S., the new European request for WTO arbitration says.

The U.S. defended its actions, saying it has followed the WTO's rules and procedures.

"We've been fully forthcoming on items that are properly part of the dispute," said Christin Baker, a spokeswoman for U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, who is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The two sides were required to agree on how to make commercial and government records available to each other before arbitration began. The WTO agreed July 20 to investigate billions of dollars of development aid to Boeing and Airbus after the EU and the U.S. claimed that each other's development aid to the world's biggest commercial plane makers is illegal.

Boeing's 250-seat 787 Dreamliner, to be introduced in 2008, has benefited from a combined $5 billion in assistance, the 25-nation EU says.

The U.S. says European governments have provided as much as a third of the cost of Airbus projects in the past, with the money being paid back with interest only if the aircraft is a commercial success.

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