Geneva: The World Trade Organization has delivered a long-awaited initial ruling in a dispute between the United States and the European Union over government financing for airplane manufacturers. The judgement has been delivered in a confidential format leaving all concerned temporarily in the dark.
The decision was delivered to both parties through one paper copy, along with one read-only copy on a computer disk. The WTO exhibited extreme secrecy in the matter, in part because of sensitive company information contained in it.
The international trade body is ruling on an American complaint that European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, a bitter rival in the commercial aircraft industry, had received unfair advantages through billions of dollars worth European government financing to help develop new airplanes.
Both Washington and Brussels confirmed receipt of the ruling. "Because the interim report is confidential, we cannot discuss the contents," said Deborah Mesloh, deputy assistant US trade representative in Washington.
In turn, Lutz Guellner, spokesman for the European trade commissioner, said, "It is a long document of more than 1,000 pages which we will study carefully."
Industry and WTO experts predict that the ruling could set important precedents on how far governments could go to support their aviation industry.