Picking apart the contrasting claims, two sources familiar with the case told Reuters the draft conclusions of a five-year WTO probe overwhelmingly backed U.S. charges that the dozen or so loans were "actionable" subsidies that harmed Boeing.
Washington won a partial victory on a second key claim: that most of the same loans further violated WTO rules by amounting to prohibited export subsidies, the sources said. The extent of the U.S. victory on this point remained unclear.
At least one of four loans given by European governments to help fund the A380 superjumbo was cleared of being a banned export subsidy, but the rest were found illegal, sources said.
Washington however lost a third claim: that the overall use of European loans was an invalid program of support in its own right, several sources familiar with the matter said.
The United States had not only attacked the individual loans but claimed they were part of a concerted and open-ended system in a bid to implicate future loans for Airbus's future A350, which fell outside the jurisdiction of the WTO complaint.
This last bit is the point I was getting at the other day, when I said:
For me, here's the big question about the ruling: Can the findings on launch aid be used to bring launch aid not specifically challenged in this dispute within a DSU Article 21.5 compliance panel's jurisdiction as a "measure taken to comply"? That is, is there a basis for the U.S. to argue that the grant of future launch aid means that the EU is not complying with the ruling?
Let me elaborate on this a bit. One reason for the U.S. to make a claim against launch aid as a "program" or "measure" is so that future launch aid payments, perhaps even for aircraft (like the A350) not covered by the specific payments challenged in the complaint, would be within the jurisdiction of a DSU Article 21.5 "compliance" proceeding.
(For those who are new to these issues -- and my sense is that with the new school year, many students have just started reading this blog -- the significance of challenging future launch aid payments under Article 21.5 is the following. If the U.S. has to challenge such payments through a new complaint, it would have to start this complaint from the beginning of the DSU process. By contrast, if it can characterize future launch aid payments as being related to the original dispute, it can bring an Article 21.5 challenge against these payments, alleging that they are not in compliance with the original ruling. If it succeeds on the Article 21.5 complaint, it can then request authorization to impose trade sanctions right away, which it could not do with a regular complaint).
So what I'm curious about is exactly how the WTO panel characterized its findings on launch aid, and whether, based on this characterization, there is room for the U.S. to argue that future launch aid falls within the scope of an Article 21.5 proceeding. The Reuters article perhaps implies that the answer is no, but the panel's actual reasoning may make the issue more complicated.
One final point: I think the issue may be more complex than simply whether the new launch aid is a "measure taken to comply," as I said in the quote above. But it's a little too complex to explain quickly here.