Market Access and Subsidies in Air Transport: The US-UAE Debate and WTO

  • Ruwantissa Abeyratne


The fact that market access in air transport does not come under the Annex to the General Agreement on Trade in Services of WTO, and the prevailing bilateral air services regime between States, which essentially precludes a totally liberalized air transport system, has led to protectionism for the past 70 years of regulated air transport. Although there are some open skies agreements between States, they have tended to ensure bilateral reciprocity for the most part. The subsidy issue between the United States carriers and the carriers of the United Arab Emirates (Emirates and Etihad) as well as Qatar Airways is the latest dispute where the United States’ carriers claim that the governments of Qatar and the UAE have granted over $40 billion in concealed subsidies such as direct cash injections, interest free loans with no payment obligations, shareholder advances, significant related party transactions not at arm’s-length, and subsidized infrastructure, as well as other unfair business practices, such as bans on unions. The US carriers claim that they are losing market share as a result of this exploitation which is causing the loss of hundreds of jobs. This article examines the issue in the context of market access and WTO rules.


World Trade Organization United Arab Emirate Market Access Most Favour Nation World Trade Organization Member 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruwantissa Abeyratne
    • 1
  1. 1.Global Aviation Consultancies Inc.MontrealCanada

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