Paris (AFP)

The aircraft manufacturer Airbus made a proposal on Friday aimed at resolving a very old dispute with its rival Boeing, which according to the European Union should lead the United States to lift "immediately" commercial reprisals decided on the basis of this conflict.

"Unjustified customs duties on European products are not acceptable," EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said on Friday, calling on the United States to lift them "immediately" after Airbus announcements.

"In the absence of a regulation, the EU will be ready to make full use of its own sanction rights," he warned.

"If the United States continues to refuse an amicable negotiation, the European Union will have no choice but to adopt tariff sanctions against American products (...). We are determined to do so. respect our rights ", added the French Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire.

The European aircraft manufacturer and its American competitor, and therefore Brussels and Washington, have been competing since October 2004 before the World Trade Organization. In question: the public aid paid to the two groups, deemed illegal on both sides.

It is the longest and most complicated trade dispute dealt with by the WTO.

Friday, Airbus announced to be "in full compliance" with WTO rules.

Concretely, the European aircraft manufacturer has reached an agreement with the Spanish and French governments to pay higher interest on the repayable advances granted by Paris and Madrid during the launch of the A350 long-haul aircraft program.

This system of reimbursable advances makes it possible to limit the financial risks taken by an industrialist when launching large-scale projects.

Interest rates now "correspond to what the WTO considers to be the appropriate interest rates and risk assessment criteria," says Airbus.

"After 16 years of litigation, this is the last step to put an end to this long-standing dispute and remove all justification for US tariffs," said the aircraft manufacturer.

"We have fully satisfied all the requirements of the WTO. These additional amendments to the RLI (repayable advances, editor's note) of the A350 demonstrate that Airbus has not neglected any detail to find a solution", considers the executive chairman of 'Airbus, Guillaume Faury, quoted in the press release.

It is "a clear signal of support to those suffering from the violent impact of tariffs imposed by USTR," the US Trade Representative, "he said," especially at a time when industries are being hit hard by the consequences. of the Covid-19 crisis ".

- No obligation -

The aircraft manufacturer did not "want to wait any longer" and wanted to show that it was "serious" in its desire to comply, explained a source familiar with the matter. There was no legal obligation to do so, she added, saying she hoped "the United States realizes this is a real gesture."

The United States was authorized in October by the WTO to impose taxes on nearly 7.5 billion dollars (6.8 billion euros) of European goods and services imported each year. This is the heaviest sanction ever imposed by the WTO.

Washington has since imposed punitive tariffs on certain products imported from the European Union (including wine, cheese and olives) up to 25%.

Customs taxes of 10% on Airbus planes were raised to 15% in March. They also affect the American airlines which equip themselves with the European aircraft manufacturer, Airbus point.

In a mirror procedure, the EU is waiting for the WTO to authorize it to also impose customs duties in reaction to undue subsidies paid this time by Washington to the American aircraft manufacturer. The decision should be made in September or October, depending on the source familiar with the matter.

During this war in which the various players surrendered blow for blow, both Airbus and Boeing have in the past already proclaimed that they were in compliance.

© 2020 AFP