US claims win in Airbus row

THE World Trade Organisation (WTO)has partly upheld a US complaint that European loans to Airbus worth $15bn (&pound;9.13bn) were illegal subsidies, according to a confidential report.<br /><br />Now Baroness Ashton, the EU&rsquo;s trade commissioner, says Europe is willing to negotiate with America in the long-running battle over state aid to Airbus and Boeing.<br /><br />The US filed a WTO complaint in October 2004 challenging $15bn&nbsp; in loans by EU governments for development of the A380 and other aircraft dating back to 1970. The EU filed its counter-complaint the same day, relating to around $24bn of American subsidies to Boeing in the form of government research contracts and tax breaks.<br /><br />The latest WTO ruling regarding Airbus findings are contained in a confidential interim report distributed by US lawmakers.&nbsp; A similar report on US aid to Boeing is expected in the next six to seven months.<br /><br />American sources claim the draft conclusions show some of the &euro;3bn (&pound;2.6bn) in repayable launch aid for the A380 was basically subsidies, and so was research, development and infrastructure funding. But the WTO ruled the overall use of European loans was not an invalid programme of support in its own right.