Wants US, EU To Abandon Feud Before WTO... But Also Takes Aim
Allan McArtor, chairman of the North American division of
European planemaker Airbus, says his employer and America's Boeing
should abandon their contentious and costly battle over aircraft
subsidies and negotiate a new trade agreement. But wait... this
isn't necessarily peace in our time.
Despite his appeal for calm, McArtor also took the opportunity
to chide Boeing -- accusing his US rival of employing "offensive
and totally inappropriate" tactics, as it competes against Airbus
for the lucrative KC-X Air Force tanker contract. McArtor made his
comments this week in an interview with Thompson Financial.
McArtor also alleged then-Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher prodded
the US government to launch action against the European Union
before the World Trade Organization in 2004, as a "smokescreen"
measure to mask troubles at Boeing. Furthermore, McArtor asserts
Boeing has received over $24 billion in government subsidies... an
amount "far out of bounds with WTO rules."
For all the vitriol, however -- and McArtor's staunch belief
Airbus has done nothing wrong in regard to receiving government
subsidies, which he readily admits planemakers on both sides of the
Atlantic will probably continue to benefit from -- the Airbus
executive and former US Air Force pilot believes more would be
accomplished on both sides if the WTO case was thrown out.
"Let's face it: if the WTO process plays out, we're going to end
up negotiating something anyway," he said. "Why not skip the
national histrionics and the lawyer-enriching trials and hearings
and go right to the negotiating."
ANN has reported extensively on the ongoing WTO battle. In September, Boeing stated
the EU is vastly overestimating what the US government has paid
Boeing over the past 30 years. The EU claims at least $10.4 billion
(less than half what McArtor alleges); Boeing argues it has
received only about $750 million over that period.
McArtor believes both sides should instead get to work on
revamping a since-mothballed 1992 trade pact, with close attention
paid to defining acceptable levels of government support. That's
not likely to happen, McArtor adds... and, yes, he places the blame
for that on Boeing, saying the planemaker is using the WTO battle
as the "centerpiece of their PR campaign" to win the KC-X deal.
A tanker variant of Boeing's 767 commercial airliner is duking
it out against a similarly-modified version of the Airbus A330 for
the KC-X bid. A team comprised of Northrop Grumman and Airbus
parent company EADS is offering the KC-330 against Boeing's KC-767;
whichever side wins the deal will provide the Air Force with 179
planes over 15 years.