Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) sent a bi-partisan letter to President Obama urging him to protect against further U.S. aerospace job and market losses following the World Trade Organization's (WTO) final ruling that Airbus has received illegal, trade-distorting subsidies. The Senators also called on the Administration to move forward with the competition to replace the American military's aerial refueling tankers.
"For decades, U.S. aerospace workers have had to compete against a company that has benefitted from illegal subsidies across virtually every one of its commercial airplanes," the Senators wrote. "The impact of these subsidies on the U.S. aerospace industry has been devastating."
On March 23rd, the WTO released its final ruling that Airbus has been the beneficiary of billions of dollars in illegal subsidies and that those subsidies had hurt American aerospace interests.
Murray and Brownback were joined on the letter by Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Michael Bennet (D-CO).
The full text of the letter is below:
March 31st, 2010
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has issued its final ruling on the U.S. trade case against illegal European government subsidies to Airbus. On March 23, the WTO released its findings that Airbus has been the beneficiary of billions of dollars in illegal subsidies and that these subsidies caused serious prejudice to United States' interests. To those of us who care about the American aerospace industry, these conclusions came as no surprise.
For decades, U.S. aerospace workers have had to compete against a company that has benefitted from illegal subsidies across virtually every one of its commercial airplanes. The impact of these subsidies on the U.S. aerospace industry has been devastating. The subsidies helped drive Lockheed Martin and McDonnell Douglas out of the commercial airplane business and cut Boeing's global market share from nearly 67 percent in 1999 to 47 percent in 2004. Tens of thousands of U.S. aerospace jobs have been lost as Europe's illegal subsidies inflated Airbus' market share.
The WTO's ruling shines a bright light on this market distorting trade practice and sets an important precedent for the broader, global aerospace market. We urge you to ensure a fair and level playing field for American industry and workers by insisting that European governments cease providing launch aid to Airbus and comply fully with the WTO recommendations. We also request you express your deep concern regarding Europe's stated intent and recent actions to extend the same illegal subsidies the WTO has now rejected to the A350.
Finally, having relied on illegal subsidies to buy market share in the commercial aerospace market, Airbus now seems intent on further using subsidized aircraft to significantly increase its presence in the U.S. defense market. This is unacceptable. We urge you to move forward on the Air Force tanker competition without delay.
The U.S. aerospace industry has long spurred innovation and job creation in this country. The WTO ruling on illegal subsidies to Airbus is a landmark decision. How the United States reacts to the WTO ruling will determine if this country will continue to have a robust and vibrant aerospace industrial base in the future. We look forward to working with you and your Administration as this process continues to move towards resolution.
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT)
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO)