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Airbus-Boeing deal eases US-EU tensions but conflicts remain

ap photo In this 2019 file photo, an Airbus A380, left, and a Boeing 747, both from Lufthansa airline pass each other at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany.

BRUSSELS — The deal the United States and the European Union reached Tuesday to end their long-running rift over subsidies to Boeing and Airbus will suspend billions in punitive tariffs. It will ease trans-Atlantic tensions. And it will let the two sides focus on a common economic threat: China.

But the breakthrough still leaves some trade friction between the U.S. and the EU unresolved. Most prominently, President Biden kept in place import taxes that President Donald Trump imposed on European steel and aluminum, a move that infuriated some of America’s closet allies three years ago.

For now, Tuesday’s truce in the Boeing-Airbus dispute goes a long way toward repairing a huge commercial relationship — $933 billion in two-way trade last year despite the pandemic — that came under enormous strain during the Trump years. Among other things, the former president angrily charged the Europeans with using unfair trade practices to sell more products to the United States than they bought and of shirking their responsibility to pay for their own national defense.

No trade dispute between the two sides has raged longer than their aviation conflict. Since 2004, the U.S. and the EU have accused each other of unfairly subsidizing their aircraft-building giants — America’s Boeing and Europe’s Airbus. Over the past two years, the World Trade Organization, which adjudicates such disputes, declared both sides guilty. It allowed the United States to impose up to $7.5 billion in tariffs and the EU up to $4 billion’ worth.

The tit-for-tat duties victimized companies that have nothing to do with aircraft production, from French winemakers and German cookie bakers in Europe to spirits producers in the United States, among many others.

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