Boeing chief rules out compromise

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The chief executive of the US plane maker Boeing warned yesterday that America would not compromise over its demand for an end to subsidies for Airbus, in remarks that raised the temperature of the dispute and made an all-out trade war with Europe more likely.

Harry Stonecipher said: "I don't have anything to put on the table because there is nothing to offer." Asked whether he was prepared to compromise, perhaps by including the tax subsidies Boeing receives from Washington state in any new agreement covering government support for large aircraft manufacturing, Mr Stonecipher replied: "Absolutely not."

He added that the US had already compromised all that it was going to by agreeing to ignore the $15bn (£8.4bn) of state subsidies that Airbus had received in the past and confining its dispute with Europe to future launch aid for the four-nation plane maker.

The US last week unilaterally terminated a 1992 agreement with the European Union which limits support for large commercial aircraft to 33 per cent of their development cost and filed a complaint with the World Trade Organisation alleging that aid for Airbus is "actionable".

But Boeing and the US government appear to have been stung by the ferocity of the European response, which was to file a counter-suit with the WTO protesting at the $23bn in subsidies it claims Boeing has received in the past 12 years.

Mr Stonecipher insisted that nobody was trying to start a trade war, saying the US wanted to get both parties to the table to "negotiate in good faith".

He denied that the timing of the US action had been influenced either by next month's presidential elections or by speculation that Airbus will launch a competitor to Boeing's new 7E7 Dreamliner for which it will seek launch aid from the partner governments of Britain, Germany, France and Spain.