The USA will hold off from seeking a World Trade Organisation (WTO) investigation into Airbus subsidies before the end of the year to allow new European trade commissioner Peter Mandelson time to "review the issues", a US trade official confirms. But the official says "no one should be in any doubt that we are resolved to press ahead with this case".
The US government filed a complaint to the WTO in October over alleged European government aid for Airbus. The EU responded by filing a similar complaint over US support for Boeing. A 60-day consultation period following the complaints meant both parties could not push the investigation process on to the next stage - establishing a panel to review the case - before next week. US trade representative Robert Zoellick will meet Mandelson this week. The EU trade commission declines to comment on its next action, but says: "If the USA is pulling back from a rush to the WTO, commissioner Mandelson will be interested to hear from the US trade representative what they intend next."
HELEN MASSY-BERESFORD / LONDON