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Boeing received illegal subsides from US, says WTO

The company is alleged to have received $20bn worth of illegal subsides, tax breaks and research gra

The World Trade Organisation (WTO), in a confidential preliminary ruling in Geneva, said that the US aid given to Chicago-based aircraft company Boeing flouted WTO's international rules.

The judgment comes six years after the EU lodged a complaint with the WTO, claiming that Boeing had received $20bn worth of illegal cross subsidies, tax breaks and research grants from US government agencies.

France's transport and environment ministers - Jean-Louis Borloo and Dominique Bussereau - in a joint statement have said that the WTO "condemns massive subsidies to Boeing that violate WTO rules."

Three months ago, the WTO had ruled that Airbus had been given unfair advantage by the EU through low-interest government loans, infrastructure and grants worth billions in a case lodged by the US.

Boeing, in a statement on Wednesday, said the ruling was "a massive rejection of the EU case and confirms that European launch aid to Airbus stands as the single largest and most flagrant illegal subsidy in the aerospace industry."

Details of the ruling have yet to be made public and a final verdict is several months away.