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France Talks Up Boeing/Airbus Truce in Call to Biden

By Lou Whiteman - Feb 10, 2021 at 3:07PM

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A nearly two-decade-old dispute is doing damage to both aerospace manufacturers and their airline customers.

French President Emmanuel Macron has reportedly reached out to Joe Biden, suggesting the two countries work out a deal to resolve a long-running dispute between Boeing (BA 2.79%) and Airbus (EADSY 0.35%).

The two aerospace giants have argued about subsidies for nearly two decades, with both sides scoring blows against the other. Last fall, the European Union (EU) won World Trade Organization (WTO) authorization for tariffs on Boeing jets. The U.S. had already imposed tariffs on certain Airbus imports as part of a broader $7.5 billion tariff package.

An Airbus plane in flight over a body of water.

Image source: Airbus.

The dispute has cost the companies, and their airline customers, money, and both sides have indicated some willingness to settle. In November EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said, "We have made clear all along that we want to settle this long-running issue." The Europeans were expected to bring up the issue following the U.S. election.

On Wednesday, CNBC reported that Macron had suggested negotiations during a conversation with Biden two weeks ago. Biden, according to the report, said relevant officials would follow up but was noncommittal about a resolution.

The call for a truce comes as airlines and aerospace manufacturers are struggling due to the impact of the pandemic on travel demand. The Europeans are also likely trying to take advantage of a desire by the new administration to reset relations with foreign allies. But given how long the dispute has lingered, and the complexity of the subsidy issue, it will not be easy for the two sides to agree to a compromise.

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The Boeing Company Stock Quote
The Boeing Company
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Airbus Stock Quote
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