(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) issued the following statement based on news reports that the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) interim ruling found that launch aid to Airbus is an illegal subsidy. In 2005, Senator Murray led efforts to pressure the Bush Administration to initiate a WTO case against the EU and Airbus. Murray also helped pass a unanimous Senate Resolution that denounced the harmful and market distorting subsidy.
“It’s clear that launch aid is an illegal subsidy, it has given Airbus an unfair advantage, and it needs to end. I urge the EU and Airbus to heed the WTO’s ruling and to immediately put a stop to plans to provide any further illegal launch aid.
“This ruling confirms that Boeing has been competing on an uneven playing field for decades. Launch aid has meant that Boeing has been forced to compete not only with Airbus, but also with the treasuries of the European governments that support them. It is a market distortion that has cost American jobs and cannot be allowed to continue.
“The WTO’s ruling comes at a critical time for the future of the international aerospace industry. For years, the United States has worked to get clarity on how governments can interact with their civil aviation industries. This is an important signal to both existing aerospace companies and future entrants into the market that launch aid is an illegal practice that should not be followed and won’t be tolerated.
“The WTO’s decision also raises major questions for the U.S. Department of Defense as it prepares to solicit bids to build the next generation of aerial refueling tankers. DoD has consistently said they plan to conduct a fair and open competition to award the tanker contract. But if DoD wants a truly fair competition, it needs to start with competitors that play by the rules. DoD needs to answer to how this violation of WTO rules will be considered in the competition for the vital aerial refueling tanker.
“This ruling is much more than a confirmation that Airbus has been breaking the rules. It is a victory for American workers who produce the world’s best planes but who have been forced to fight an uphill battle. It is a warning to other countries considering entering the aerospace marketplace that launch aid is the wrong example to follow. And most importantly, it’s a ruling that reaffirms the spirit of free and fair trade in the international marketplace.”