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GENEVA: The World Trade Organisation has ruled that the European Union continues to provide illegal subsidies to plane-maker Airbus, the latest in a string of tussles between the European manufacturer and US rival Boeing.

Tuesday’s decision by the WTO’s appellate body comes as the Trump administration has exerted intense pressure on the Geneva-based organisation over what the president alleges is its “unfair” treatment of the United States.

The appellate body maintained an earlier WTO ruling that EU “launch aid” provided to Airbus resulted in lost sales for Boeing in the twin-aisle and very-large aircraft markets.

The move means that the US can ask an arbitrator to determine the level of retaliation it can seek against the European bloc as a result of its failure to comply.

The Trump administration appeared ready to do just that.

“This report confirms once and for all that the EU has long ignored WTO rules, and even worse, EU aircraft subsidies have cost American aerospace companies tens of billions of dollars in lost revenue,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

“Unless the EU finally takes action to stop breaking the rules and harming US interests, the United States will have to move forward with countermeasures on EU products,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018