US, UK reach Boeing-Airbus truce following EU agreement

Boeing and Airbus logos
Image Credit: AFP

The US and UK reached a truce in a trade dispute involving Airbus SE and Boeing Co., agreeing to a five-year suspension on tariffs affecting various goods.

Products such as Scotch whisky, biscuits and clotted cream had been hit by additional duties of 25% because of the spat, and the agreement between the US and Britain suspends the tariffs until 2026 while talks take place, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s office said in a statement on Thursday.

While the US reached a framework in the longstanding aircraft-subsidy dispute with the EU earlier this week, it needed to negotiate a separate resolution with London after the UK left the EU last year.

The transatlantic allies have been working to resolve their trade differences so they can take a common stance against China’s state-backed advances in global commerce.

The US-EU deal, announced in Brussels on Tuesday, included a five-year EU commitment not to reinstate its duties on $4 billion worth of US goods like tractors, video games and rum. In return, Washington withdrew for five years its tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of European food and luxury items, like Champagne, cognac and leather goods.

In addition to suspending tariffs, the EU and US agreed to create a working group to analyse bilateral disagreements and develop principles and appropriate actions; commit to provide transparent information on the funding for R&D in the sector; and jointly address non-market practices of countries like China.

The US in March suspended tariffs with the UK and then the EU for four months – a period that would have ended in early July – to create space to negotiate a long-lasting solution.

The World Trade Organisation had ruled that the governments of Germany, France, Spain and the UK provided Airbus with illegal subsidies through launch-aid loans for aircraft development, equity infusions, debt forgiveness and various other financial contributions.

The Geneva-based trade body also ruled that in the US, Boeing benefited from illegal subsidies through a since-withdrawn Washington state business and occupation tax break.