Biden Moves to End Long-running Boeing, Airbus Dispute

June 15, 2021 by Dan McCue
President Joe Biden, center, walks with European Council President Charles Michel, right, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, during the United States-European Union Summit at the European Council in Brussels, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Joe Biden on Tuesday moved to end a 17-year dispute with the European Union over how big a government subsidy each can provide to its major aircraft manufacturer. That’s Boeing in the case of the U.S.; Airbus in the case of the European Union.

The announcement of a deal in the long-running dispute came as President Biden met with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told reporters traveling with the president that the agreement calls for a five-year suspension of tariffs on aircraft, and explained the timing of the deal, by saying the administration feels it is time to put aside such differences and focus instead on China and its push for a more assertive place in world affairs.

At the same time, the agreement is also seen as a counterbalance to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, who has global ambitions of his own.

“Today’s announcement resolves a longstanding trade irritant in the U.S.-Europe relationship. Instead of fighting with one of our closest allies, we are finally coming together against a common threat,” Tai said. “We agreed to work together to challenge and counter China’s non-market practices in this sector in specific ways that reflect our standards for fair competition.”

In a statement released by the Whitie house, Biden said the  U.S. and EU will work together in “ways that reflect our high standards,” including collaborating on inward and outbound investment and technology transfer. 

“It’s a model we can build on for other challenges posed by China’s economic model,” he said.

“This week, at the G7, at NATO, in my meeting with the leaders of the European Union, and in all my bilateral meetings with world leaders, I’ve been making the case that the U.S. and Europe—and democracies everywhere—are stronger when we work together to advance our shared values like fair competition and transparency. Today’s announcement demonstrates exactly how that can work in practice,” the president said.

Tai said the tariffs could be reimplemented if the U.S. determines U.S. companies are not able to “compete fairly” with the EU’s. The tariffs had been temporarily suspended on March 11 for four months, and the new agreement will officially go into effect on July 11.

The White House on Tuesday also announced the creation of a joint U.S.-EU trade and technology council. 

The council will work on coordinating standards for artificial intelligence, quantum computing and bio-technologies, as well as coordinating efforts on bolstering supply chain resilience. Biden is appointing Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Tai to co-chair the U.S. side of the effort.

The White House said the two sides will also discuss efforts to stem climate change and launch an expert group to determine how best to reopen travel safely as the coronavirus pandemic ends.

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