Assertion of EU sovereignty a key factor in Boeing-Airbus deal - Paris

Foreign trade – Boeing-Airbus agreement – Interview given by M. Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to BFM Business (excerpts)

Paris, 15 June 2021

Q. – Was the agreement difficult to reach? The dispute dates back 17 years, obviously with all the consequences it’s had. How did the agreement… Tell us a bit about the backstory to the truce.

THE MINISTER – There are three major factors explaining the truce. First of all, the assertion of European sovereignty. We’ve been very clear for several months and shown firmness whilst reaching out. At the end of last year we applied customs tariffs, when the WTO authorized us to do so, to American aerospace and other categories of products, in retaliation for the US decisions. So we asserted our European sovereignty.

The second factor was the change of administration in the United States, with the Biden administration’s desire to forge a transatlantic relationship with Europe again, and therefore a stronger, revitalized, calmer and more peaceful transatlantic relationship.

And thirdly it was the growing power of China and the arrival of competitors to our aerospace flagships which, particularly because of unfair practices, threaten both Boeing and Airbus. So these three factors led to this historic agreement. A 17-year-long dispute and now we have an agreement that gives us a clear view of the way ahead, not only for aerospace stakeholders but also all those who have been collateral victims of the dispute, starting with producers of wines, spirits and other products that were very heavily taxed by the United States in the dispute.

Q. – And how is that going to happen, the lifting of customs duties? Is it already in place? When’s it from?

THE MINISTER – It’s already in place. As you know, there was a four-month moratorium, endorsed on 11 March, which gave us until 11 July to negotiate. And now, through this decision, we’re maintaining that moratorium, in a way, but suspending these customs duties for five years, with a very clear desire to reach the best possible agreement in order, in fact, to mutually accept the definition of funding for public support to US aerospace on the US side and to European aerospace on the European Union side. And so objectively things are absolutely historic, because after a 17-year-long dispute we have five years of clarity ahead so there won’t be a trade war over aerospace and over those who, again, were collateral victims of the dispute, like [producers of] wines and spirits. (…)

But we still have a number of issues to deal with: there’s the steel dispute and there are of course questions about US extraterritorial practices that continue to cause us problems, banning a number of our businesses from trading with other countries – I’m thinking of Russia, Iran, Cuba and others. And so we have to continue dialogue, discussion with the United States. But we’ve now taken a step that really enables us to show there’s a change of attitude by the United States, a breath of fresh air./.

Published on 18/06/2021

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