WTO rules against Boeing’s 777X tax break

Wing autoclave
A giant autoclave is ready to “cook” parts for the Boeing 777X wings. (Credit: Boeing)

In the latest chapter of a years-long legal battle, the World Trade Organization says Washington state’s tax break for production of the Boeing 777X jetliner runs counter to international trade rules.

“We expect the U.S. to respect the rules, uphold fair competition, and withdraw these subsidies without any delay,” Cecilia Malmström, the European Union’s trade commissioner, said in a statement issued after today’s ruling.

However, U.S. officials and Boeing executives signaled that the battle would continue. The fight over the tax breaks is part of a larger dispute between the Boeing Co. and its European rival, Airbus, with U.S. and EU officials in the middle.

Boeing’s general counsel, J. Michael Luttig, went so far as to claim in a statement that today’s ruling was “a complete victory for the United States, Washington state and Boeing.”

The way Luttig saw it, the WTO rejected “virtually every claim made by the EU in this case” and found that Boeing “has not received a penny of impermissible subsidies.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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