Brooklyn Journal of International Law


Sam Bhat

First Page



This Note surveys the perverse effects of the Airbus–Boeing dispute on international trade, examining how this unique and unprecedented duopoly challenges WTO agreements regarding state assistance to domestic manufacturers of large civil aircraft. This trade dispute has precipitated significant consequences for industries unrelated to aircraft manufacturing on both sides of the Atlantic. Theoretically, the WTO’s dispute resolution framework is designed to maintain an undistorted status quo between member states. The case of Airbus–Boeing, however, has shown that a duopoly conflict masquerading as a WTO dispute leads to escalating tariffs with substantial repercussions. This is the costliest dispute in the history of the WTO and has seriously hampered the goals of member states to ensure non-politicized free trade. Moreover, through its outsized influence on domestic and foreign policies, the transatlantic duopoly has contributed significantly to the systematic unraveling of the WTO as an effective arbitration body for international trade. Even as both blocs promise renewed collaboration in response to third-party threats, the cloud of tariffs and impotent WTO tribunals may be turbulent for the multilateral trading system.