The World Trade Organisation on Monday gave the United States final authorisation to impose tariffs on EU products in retaliation for illegal subsidies given to Airbus, in a widely expected procedural move.
Earlier this month, a WTO arbitrator gave Washington the green light to slap tariffs on $7.5 billion (6.8 billion euros) worth of European Union imports, a landmark moment in the 15-year legal battle between Airbus and American planemaker Boeing.
The arbitrator’s award — the largest in the organisation’s history — needed to be rubber-stamped by the WTO’s Dispute Settle Body (DSB).
That final authorisation was granted at a special DSB meeting on Monday, according to a Geneva trade official.
Washington has said the tariffs, which may target a range of consumer products including French wine, could be in place by Friday.
But EU officials have indicated that they are trying to reach a negotiated settlement with the US, to avoid escalating trade tensions that risk battering economies across the globe.
If those negotiations fail to produce a deal, Brussels will get the chance to impose its own WTO-approved tariffs on US products, after convincing WTO judges that Boeing had benefited from illegal US government subsidies.
An arbitrators award in that case is due in 2020.