Government urged to settle row between Boeing and Bombardier
A Government minister has sought to address MPs' concerns over a bitter aerospace trade dispute which could financially devastate one of Northern Ireland's biggest employers.
Prime Minister Theresa May has asked US President Donald Trump to help broker a deal in the spat between Boeing and Canadian aerospace giant Bombardier.
Minister for Climate Change and Industry Claire Perry told the Commons: "It is vitally important that we have this dispute settled and we create the environment for many manufacturers in this vital sector to thrive and grow."
Her comments came as Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable raised the issue during business, energy and industrial strategy questions.
He asked the Government to "commit itself to standing very firmly behind Bombardier and its workers and alongside the Canadian government in resisting bullying from Boeing and its friend in the United States administration".
Strangford MP Jim Shannon also voiced fears over the security of the contract.
Speaking to the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson, the DUP MP said: "The minister will also be aware of the issues within the aerospace sector and in particular Bombardier. He'll be aware of Boeing's attempts to stop the contract which will add $30m to every plane (coming into) C Series in Belfast.
"Could the minister indicate what he is doing to ensure that Bombardier's contract is secure."
Mr Johnson replied: "I can assure him that we are engaging very closely with the companies involved and will be following up on his point."
Sir Vince later branded Mr Johnson's reply "rather non-committal".
Bombardier, which employs around 4,500 people in Belfast and accounts for 10% of the region's manufacturing exports, is facing significant costs in the dispute. The fallout centres on Boeing's allegations that Bombardier received subsidies allowing it to sell its C Series planes at below-market prices.
The US Department of Commerce is expected to announce a decision on whether to impose duties against Bombardier on September 25.
The UK government has been actively lobbying in the US for a compromise between the two companies amid growing concern about the potential implications for Bombardier in Belfast.
Mrs May raised the matter with the US president in a phone call last week. However, despite the diplomatic efforts of the UK government to get the case dropped and a compromise reached, Boeing insisted on Tuesday it is going to "let the process play out".