MANCHESTER: Boeing needs to get around the table with Bombardier to thrash out a solution to its trade dispute that has put thousands of jobs at risk in Northern Ireland, the British minister for the region said.
James Brokenshire told his Conservative Party’s annual conference that Boeing’s role in getting the US government to slap a 220 per cent tariff on Bombardier’s CSeries jet was “unjustified and unwarranted”.
The tariff, which will take effect only if the US International Trade Commission (ITC) backs Boeing in a final decision expected in 2018, has dealt a major blow to the Canadian company’s flagship project.
It has also cast a huge shadow over Northern Ireland, where Bombardier is by far the most important manufacturer and a pillar of Belfast’s economy, employing 4,200 people and supporting thousands more in the supply chain.
“I say to Boeing this case is unjustified and unwarranted. This action is not what is expected of a long-term partner to the UK. They need to get round the table and secure a negotiated outcome to this dispute quickly.”
Northern Ireland is the poorest of the United Kingdom’s four parts and is mired in political difficulties after emerging from decades of armed sectarian conflict.
Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, says it is upholding trade rules and not trying to damage the CSeries. It accuses Canada and Britain of unfairly subsidising Bombardier and says Bombardier has illegally dumped its products in the US single-aisle airplane market out of desperation.
“The support that the UK provided to the Bombardier operation in Belfast was and remains compliant with international requirements,” Brokenshire said.
The ruling is a political headache for Britain’s minority Conservative government, which relies on support from a Northern Irish party to stay in power.
It also undermines the government’s assurances to Britons that free trade and London’s close ties with Washington will be pillars of Britain’s prosperity and global influence after it leaves the European Union in 2019.