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UPDATE 1-Airbus CEO urges trade war ceasefire, easing of COVID travel bans

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Tim Hepher
·2 min read
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(Adds comments on COVID-19 border controls)

By Tim Hepher

PARIS, Feb 20 (Reuters) - The head of European planemakerAirbus called on Saturday for a "ceasefire" in atransatlantic trade war over aircraft subsidies, sayingtit-for-tat tariffs on planes and other goods had aggravateddamage from the COVID-19 crisis.

Washington progressively imposed import duties of 15% onAirbus jets from 2019 after a prolonged dispute at the WorldTrade Organization, and the EU responded with matching tariffson Boeing jets a year later. Wine, whisky and other goodsare also affected.

"This dispute, which is now an old dispute, has put us in alose-lose situation," Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faurysaid in a radio interview.

"We have ended up in a situation where wisdom would normallydictate that we have a ceasefire and resolve this conflict," hetold France Inter.

Boeing was not immediately available for comment.

Brazil, which has waged separate battles with Canada oversubsidies for smaller regional jets, on Thursday dropped its owncomplaint against Ottawa and called for a global peace dealbetween producing nations on support for aerospace.

Faury said the dispute with Boeing was particularly damagingduring the COVID-19 pandemic, which has badly hit air travel andled to travel restrictions or border closures. He expressedparticular concern about widening bans within Europe.

"We are extremely frustrated by the barriers that restrictpersonal movement and it is almost impossible today to travel inEurope by plane, even domestically," he said.

"The priority no. 1 for countries in general is to reopenfrontiers and allow people to travel on the basis of tests andthen eventually vaccinations."

The comments come as businesses increase pressure ongovernments to reopen economies as coronavirus vaccine roll-outsgather pace across Europe.

France has defended recently introduced border restrictions,saying they will help the government avoid a new lockdown andstay in force until at least the end of February.

Germany installed border controls with the Czech Republicand Austria last Sunday, drawing protest from Austria andconcerns about supply-chain disruptions.

Berlin calls the move a temporary measure of last resort.

Poland said on Saturday it had not ruled out imposingrestrictions at the country's borders with Slovakia and theCzech Republic due to rising COVID-19 cases.(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)