Belfast Telegraph

Bombardier chief lets fly at 'ridiculous' US decision to confirm 300% C Series tariff

By John Mulgrew

Bombardier's boss has blasted the US Government's decision to enforce a massive near-300% tariff on the sale of its part-Belfast made planes.

Alain Bellemare said the decision was "ridiculous" and claimed there was "no case" for rival Boeing's complaint.

Union leaders have warned that jobs could be "crushed" after the US Department of Commerce, headed by Wilbur Ross, confirmed plans to impose the levy.

Bombardier employs around 4,000 workers in Northern Ireland who build the wings and part of the fuselage of the C Series jets.

Mr Bellemare told CNBC that "there's no case here".

"When you launch a new programme you have aggressive pricing to start with... Boeing does the same thing," he told the broadcaster.

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said while the result "was not unexpected given where we are in this dispute process, it appears the Commerce Department has gone a degree further by moving tariffs on to not only fully, but partially, assembled C Series aircraft".

Earlier this year Boeing took a challenge over sale of the planes in the US.

It claimed the jets were unfairly subsidised by the Canadian Government and the firm was "dumping aircraft" by selling them below cost.

As a result Bombardier is tying up with Euro aviation giant Airbus in a bid to avoid the tariffs by assembling the aircraft in an Airbus plant in America.

Mr Kelly added: "This essentially moves all the supply chain into view and could have serious implications for all UK aerospace firms in the future.

"It further confirms our view that this nonsense approach by the US authorities must be challenged on a UK national level, and not seen as simply a problem for Belfast and Northern Ireland.

The International Trade Commission (ITC) will ultimately decide in February whether the tariff will be enforced.

Former Shorts/Bombardier marketing man Martin Craigs said the latest move was a "predictable outcome from a Trump administration that wants to continually remind those who elected them that they appear to be putting America first".

But he added that the C Series programme was safe under the Airbus wing.

"Delta will eventually get the C Series, probably an assembled in Alabama version - still with made-in-Belfast wings - but it will likely be after the current President leaves office," he added.

He said that the immediate challenge for Airbus and Bombardier was to settle contractual details on their new joint centre and "fill the C Series order slots to 2020 with non US-based airlines".

Belfast Telegraph

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