For now, the truce in the Boeing-Airbus dispute goes a long way toward repairing a huge commercial relationship — $933 billion in two-way trade last year despite the pandemic — that came under enormous strain during the Trump years. Among other things, the former president angrily charged the Europeans with using unfair trade practices to sell more products to the United States than they bought and of shirking their responsibility to pay for their own national defense.
No trade dispute between the two sides has raged longer than their aviation conflict. Since 2004, the U.S. and the EU have accused each other of unfairly subsidizing their aircraft building giants — America’s Boeing and Europe’s Airbus. Over the past two years, the World Trade Organization, which adjudicates such disputes, declared both sides guilty. It allowed the United States to impose up to $7.5 billion in tariffs and the EU up to $4 billion’ worth.
The tit-for-tat duties victimized companies that have nothing to do with aircraft production, from French winemakers and German cookie bakers in Europe to spirits producers in the United States, among many others. The agreement brought a measure of relief to companies on both sides of the Atlantic.
“For about 20 years, we have been at each other’s throat,” U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said. “We have been too busy fighting each other.’’
In March, weeks after Biden took office, the two sides agreed to suspend the tariffs. That suspension, which began March 11, was to last for four months. The agreement announced will officially take effect July 11 and will put the tariffs on hold for five years.
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