Boeing to lose to rival if US doesn't separate China trade and human rights
US aircraft manufacturer Boeing has urged the US to keep human rights and other disputes separate from trade relations with Beijing, warning that European rival Airbus would gain if it's locked out of China, reports Reuters
07 April 2021 - 19:05
Chief Executive Dave Calhoun told an online business forum he believed a major aircraft subsidy dispute with Europe could be resolved after 16 years of wrangling at the World Trade Organization but contrasted this with the outlook on China.
'I think politically (China) is more difficult for this administration and it was for the last administration. But we still have to trade with our largest partner in the world: China,' he told the US Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit.
Noting multiple disputes, he added: 'I am hoping we can sort of separate intellectual property, human rights and other things from trade and continue to encourage a free trade environment between these two economic juggernauts. We cannot afford to be locked out of that market. Our competitor will jump right in'.
Boeing began to face questions over its share of the Chinese market as the US and China waged an 18-month trade war under then-US President Donald Trump, though China's jet purchases have slowed across the board in recent years.
Beijing increasingly also faces tensions with the West over its treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang and has warned foreign companies not to step into politics. China rejects US charges it has committed genocide against Uighur and other Muslims in the remote western region, where activists say more than 1 million people are held in internment camps.
The White House and US Trade Representative did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Mr Calhoun's remarks.
Boeing's most pressing concerns in China, analysts say, include the fate of its 737 MAX passenger jet, which was grounded worldwide for almost two years after two fatal crashes.
US regulators approved the jet to fly again in November, followed by Europe and major markets apart from China, whose regulator continues to voice major safety concerns.
Mr Calhoun said Boeing had carried out a 'top-to-bottom' overhaul and 'turned the place upside down' as it learns lessons internally from the crashes, which killed a combined 346 people.
The comments appeared designed to allay concerns from lawmakers and industry leaders, including the head of Dubai's Emirates airline, who told Reuters in January that Boeing should recognise 'top-down culpability and accountability' over the MAX.
Airline president Tim Clark said he was confident the redesigned jet was safe, however.
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