Belfast Telegraph

Vital we protect Northern Ireland jobs: PM May to press Trump on Boeing-Bombardier dispute

Bombardier lashes out at Boeing 'hypocrisy'

By Jonathan Bell

Theresa May will again raise the issue of the Boeing-Bombardier dispute with US President Donald Trump saying it's vital she works to protect jobs in Northern Ireland.

Mrs May has said she would "do all she can" to end the dispute however, she would not be drawn on if the UK will pull out of deals with the American firm. Her Canadian counterpart, however, said his government "would not do business with those suing it".

Prime Minister May was speaking at a press conference in Ottawa alongside Canadian premier Justin Trudeau during a trade visit to the country.

Boeing argues that state aid for Bombardier has given it an unfair advantage in the market place and asked US authorities to investigate. Bombardier has said Belfast is crucial to its C Series operations.

The Canadian firm is Northern Ireland's biggest employer in the manufacturing industry with the wings for the C Series planes built in east Belfast. Around 4,000 jobs could be affected.

In Canada, Theresa May said she will again raise the dispute with Donald Trump later this week in New York. The two leaders discussed the matter over the phone last week.

She said it was important to find a resolution in the matter given how important Bombardier was to both the UK and Northern Ireland.

"And I will work hard to protect those jobs in Belfast," said Mrs May.

Mrs May would not be drawn on if the UK government would use its economic muscles to demonstrate to the firm its annoyance.

However, Trudeau sent a clear message to the Boeing saying his government could reconsider military contracts.

The Canadian PM said the Bombardier C Series aircraft was a priority for his company and he's "very happy" to be working with the British PM on the issue

He described the actions of Boeing as "narrow-minded" and only in its "narrow economic interests" to harm a competitor. He said that while his government was considering the Boeing Super Hornets to replace its air fleet, he "wouldn't do business with company that was trying to sue us and put Canadian jobs at risk".

He said the "good quality" jobs in the aerospace industry were important to both Canada and Northern Ireland and he would work to "protect them".

Defending its actions, Boeing has said it was seeking "to restore a level playing field in the US single-aisle airplane market".

Boeing said the C Series had been offered in America at "absurdly low prices".

"This is a classic case of dumping and it was made possible by a major injection of public funds," it said.

"This violation of global trade law is the only issue at stake at the US International Trade Commission - one sale in the US at a price millions lower than Bombardier is charging in the Canadian market.

“No-one is saying Bombardier cannot sell its aircraft anywhere in the world. But sales must be according to globally-accepted trade law, not violating those rules seeking to boost flatlining business artificially."

Its statement continued: “Boeing values its 80-year partnership with the UK.  We have doubled our own direct employment in this country since 2011 and have tripled direct spending with the UK supply chain over the same period, to more than £2 billion in 2016. 

"Indeed, just last week Boeing broke ground for its first factory in Europe, in Sheffield. We are pleased to work with the government and provide such a vote of confidence in the UK.

"We all have a duty to ensure that global trade rules are respected around the world to deliver long-term benefits to all in the aerospace sector, which employs around 100,000 people in the UK. More than 16,500 of these employees work in Boeing’s direct UK supply chain and we are proud to work with them.

"We all have a shared interest in a level playing field. That is what this dispute is about.”

A preliminary ruling in the US is expected next week.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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