Belfast Telegraph

Prime Minister Theresa May has waved the white flag on Northern Ireland jobs as far as Bombardier tariffs row is concerned: union

By John Mulgrew

The Government has been accused of surrendering the fight over Bombardier's US trade dispute after it said it expected to lose the next stage of the battle in the coming weeks.

Richard Harrington, Minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, defended Westminster's response to an almost 300% levy on sales of the Canadian company's C Series jets to America after complaints by rival Boeing.

Addressing the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee yesterday, he said that the "expectation is things will not be very different from what has already been determined".

The final decision on the tariffs imposed by the US Department of Commerce rests with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) later this month.

Following the comments, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner accused the Government of throwing in the towel and failing to liaise with the US.

"Comments by UK ministers that they expect Bombardier to lose the US trade case with Boeing are a disgrace and amount to them raising the white flag on UK jobs without a fight," he said.

"A phone call to Donald Trump is all well and good, but where is the follow-through on Theresa May's tough words about Boeing and the tough action needed to secure Northern Ireland jobs?"

Mr Harrington said the trade tussle with Bombardier "will affect our relationship at all levels" with Boeing, which has "soured".

Independent unionist MP Lady Hermon expressed her "disappointment" that the Prime Minister had not spoken to President Trump since the levy was imposed.

The Government has, however, spoken to US Department of Commerce head Wilbur Ross and other American officials about the dispute, MPs were told.

And it is weighing up what appeal options it has once the ITC makes its final determination. The committee also heard that experts, including Paul Griffiths from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, will visit Belfast today to speak to the firm about the row.

Mr Harrington said that while he believed Boeing would have pursued the trade challenge against Bombardier under a different US President, the case had now been given "political cover" in part due to Donald Trump's 'America First' policy.

Also facing questions from the committee, Amanda Brooks of the Department for International Trade said she believed any assistance given to Bombardier by the UK was "compliant" with World Trade Organisation rules.

Belfast Telegraph

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