A long time ago, the US government, on behalf of Kodak, went to the WTO and sued its archrival, Japan - representing Fuji - for anti-competitive behaviour. At the time, there was a lot of talk about how such a big case between two behemoths would destroy the WTO and, indeed, the entire global trading system. After months of deliberation, the WTO ruled in favour of Fuji. The global trading system didn’t collapse. Almost a decade later, another case is supposedly threatening to destroy the WTO. This time, it is Airbus versus Boeing. The US, on behalf of Boeing, filed suit charging that EU subsidies to Airbus violate global trade rules. The Europeans promptly counter-sued, saying that Boeing gets illegal government aid. What the European team should be thinking about is how they plan to explain their inability to wean Airbus from the public trough. Airbus has received $15 billion in loans from Spain, France, Britain and Germany. For years, European governments claimed that these loans were needed

to help their infant industry compete against Boeing. Airbus now sells more planes. The European counter-suit is a red herring, since, like Boeing, Airbus’s parent companies also get defence contracts. But let the WTO decide. The best outcome would be one that takes both companies off the public dole. — The New York Times