Bombardier row ‘could threaten trade with US’

Posted On: 
28th September 2017

The transatlantic row over an aeroplane parts plant in Northern Ireland “could jeopardise” future trade with the US, the Defence Secretary has said.

Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier is at the centre of transatlantic trade row
PA Images

Michael Fallon has warned that the US may not get future Ministry of Defence contracts if it slaps tariffs on aircraft firm Bombarider, threatening thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland.

This latest intervention comes after the US Department of Commerce ruled in favour of American giant Boeing in a dispute with Canadian rival Bombardier, which employs 4,000 people in its east Belfast plant.

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The news is particularly embarrassing for Theresa May after she had personally lobbied Donald Trump to get Boeing to drop the action.

It also risks souring the Conservatives' relationship with the DUP, who said losing jobs at the plant would be "devastating" for the Northern Irish economy. 

In a warning to the US over the decision, Mr Fallon said: “This is not the kind of behaviour we expect from a long-term partner.

“We have contracts in place with Boeing for new maritime patrol aircraft and for Apache attack helicopters and they will also be bidding for other defence work and this kind of behaviour clearly could jeopardise our future relationship with Boeing.”

The case stems from a complaint from the US company that Bombardier had received an unfair subsidy from the government of Quebec, the French-speaking region of Canada.

It means a massive 219% interim tariff has now been proposed on sales of Bombardier's C-Series jet to US airline Delta.

Around 1,000 jobs are directly involved in manufacturing for the C-Series, with hundreds more in the province connected to the supply chain.

Following the announcement, No 10 tweeted that the Government was "bitterly disappointed," with the decision and would "continue to work with the company to protect vital jobs for Northern Ireland".