For Immediate Release
September 11, 2009
Contact: Brian Hart or Becky Ogilvie
Brownback Sends Letter to USTR Regarding
WTO Aircraft Ruling
Says American jobs are lost due to unfair trade practices by the European
Union and Airbus
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Sam Brownback today sent a letter thanking the United States
Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk and offered support as they continue efforts
through the World Trade Organization to stop unfair trade practices involving European
government subsidies and launch aid to Airbus. The WTO issued an interim ruling this month
which said that the European Union illegally subsidized the development of Airbus aircraft.
Airbus has offered its A330 platform in competition to replace the U.S. Air Force's fleet of aerial
refueling tankers. Brownback expressed concerns that American workers and the American
aerospace industry continue to suffer due to unfair trade practices. Brownback previously
commented on the WTO ruling at
The full text of the letter is below:
September 11, 2009
Ambassador Ron Kirk
U.S. Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20208
Dear Ambassador Kirk:
Your staff recently provided me with an update on the case the United States has pending at
the World Trade Organization against European Union subsidies of the aerospace industry. I
appreciate your continued work on the matter and your staff's efforts to inform members of
Congress on its progress. Based on the information I received, the WTO's interim ruling
appears to confirm the legitimacy of many long standing U.S. objections to EU trade practices.
U.S. trade policy regarding the aerospace industry has remained remarkably consistent across
several administrations. The U.S. began taking issue with European aerospace subsidies as far
back as my days as a White House fellow in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative nearly
20 years ago. Then as now, the U.S. has contended that the "launch aid" which the EU
provides to Airbus to develop new aircraft constitutes an illegal trade practice.
Launch aid gives Airbus access to billions in government funds that it could never afford to
borrow on commercial terms, and this free money directly harms the United States. As the
USTR pointed out in a 2006 submission to the WTO, European subsidies helped force
Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglass from the large commercial aircraft market and contributed
to a loss of 19 percent of Boeing's market share. Such industry upheaval brought a predictable
loss of revenue and cost thousands of American jobs.
Given these economic stakes, the importance of a U.S. victory in this case should not be
understated. The WTO's interim ruling confirms many basic contentions of long-standing U.S.
trade policy. After years of watching the European Union shield Airbus from the full commercial
risks of developing and marketing new aircraft, we have a real opportunity to level the playing
field in the large commercial aircraft industry.
As you work with the WTO to build on this interim ruling, I will continue to work in the United
States Senate to ensure our laws and policies are consistent with your efforts. In particular, I
believe that purchasing aerial refueling tankers based on commercial aircraft built by Airbus
without consideration of the distorting effects of launch aid would adversely affect your ongoing
discussions with the WTO. The U.S. Government needs to speak with one voice on the
question of launch aid, and I will press the Department of Defense to ensure its procurement
policies are consistent with your trade priorities.
I am confident that our long-standing national policy against launch aid is the right course of
action and will serve us well both in this case and in any related WTO cases. Thank you for
your ongoing efforts on this matter.