Bombardier to hear if US will use 'common sense' in key tariff ruling
Thousands of Bombardier staff will await to see if "some common sense prevails" from the US government as it's due to rule this week on whether to uphold an almost 300% tax on sales of its part-Belfast made planes to America.
The US International Trade Commission (ITC) is expected to make a final decision on Thursday on whether to enforce the punitive import duties.
But a shutdown of the US federal government could delay an expected vote on Thursday, due to be followed by a public announcement.
Bombardier is locked in a trade tussle with Boeing, which claims it's selling its C Series passenger planes at below cost, and has been unfairly subsidised by Canada's regional government in Quebec. The US Department of Commerce has since imposed a tariff of almost 300% on sales of the C Series to America.
Bombardier employs around 4,000 workers here. Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, told the Belfast Telegraph: "Hopefully we will see some common sense prevail from the US authorities. If they want to protect free competition and US jobs, then removing this ridiculous tariff is essential as jobs in the Bombardier supply chain across the US depend on this."
It comes as DUP MP Ian Paisley dismissed claims by the boss of a new Bombardier partner that the future of Northern Ireland's largest manufacturer could be threatened by Brexit.
Tom Enders, chief executive of Airbus, had said that the UK's exit from the EU would hit the aerospace sector hard.
According to The Times, Mr Paisley said the Airbus boss "was entitled to have his views" but that "Brexit is not going to change" the strength of the UK's aerospace sector.
And Mr Kelly said that following a conversation with aerospace group ADS, he believed Brexit could add £1.5bn of additional costs to the aerospace sector here.
“Manufacturing NI spoke with ADS, the aerospace sector representatives, last week and they confirmed that, as things stand, Brexit could add £1.5bn of costs just through customs compliance,” he said.
“This of course would be hugely damaging to investment and jobs. The Government really must start listening to business if they want Brexit to work.”
ADS chief executive, Paul Everitt, told the Belfast Telegraph it is “disappointed that an appropriate resolution to this dispute has not yet been found”.
“The C Series has great potential for future growth, and the partnership announced between Airbus and Bombardier in October was welcome news for all those involved in the programme.
“We are disappointed that an appropriate resolution to this dispute has not yet been found. The global aerospace industry is highly competitive and it is important that airlines and their passengers have access to the best technology and the most innovative products.”
Speaking about the impact of Brexit on the sector, he said: “Our industries are global and our success is dependent on our ability to compete in international markets. We need urgent agreement on a status quo transition to provide clarity and certainty. Negotiators on both sides must put jobs and prosperity first — businesses expect pragmatic solutions that solve the many complex issues raised by Brexit.”
The Government has been accused of surrendering the fight over the trade dispute after it said it expected to lose the next stage of the battle.
And during a trade union rally attended by hundreds of workers at Bombardier’s east Belfast plant last week, Unite regional officer Susan Fitzgerald said that workers here “won’t be collateral damage in a trade war”.
“The ITC decision directly threatens more than 4,000 workers and indirectly a further 20,000,” she said.