Belfast Telegraph

Bombardier’s tariff row could backfire on Boeing, warns expert

By John Mulgrew

A transatlantic trade row threatening thousands of Bombardier jobs in Belfast could backfire for Boeing as Prime Minister Theresa May hints at a boycott of the US plane maker, an expert has said.

Boeing's complaint against Bombardier could now result in a massive 220% tariff on its Belfast-made C Series planes being sold to the US.

Mrs May says the Government will continue to work to protect more than 4,000 employees at Bombardier's plants here, who face an uncertain future after a ruling by the Trump administration's Department of Commerce.

While talk of a trade war between the UK and US has been down-played by Mrs May, in remarks that could be seen as a veiled rebuke of the US stance, the Prime Minister warned of "creeping protectionism" around the world.

Up to 1,000 Bombardier staff in Northern Ireland work on the wings and fuselage of the C Series passenger planes.

Mark O'Connell, chief executive of Belfast-based international trade experts, OCO Global, said: "There is a bigger picture here.

"This dispute could potentially backfire on Boeing's strategy in the UK. Boeing is in the process of building a production facility in Sheffield to manufacture high-tech components for some of its next generation aircraft.

"The UK government does not discriminate between companies and does not want to become embroiled in a trade war between the US and Canada.

"Indeed, many US firms take advantage of the attractive cost base and incentives available in the EU which regulates applications for state aid across the whole bloc, unlike the US which does not regulate across the entire states.

"Belfast remains a competitive location for manufacturing and that will persist and even improve in a post-Brexit environment. Global corporations like Bombardier will continue to expand in locations that are competitive."

Owen Reidy, Irish Congress of Trade Unions assistant general secretary, urged stronger action from the UK government."

He reiterated calls for the UK government to "immediately review all contracts with Boeing".

Belfast Telegraph

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