Belfast Telegraph

US court backs Bombardier securing thousands of Northern Ireland jobs

By Michael Sheils McNamee

Canadian plane manufacturer Bombardier has won the latest round in of a trade dispute, potentially securing the jobs for thousands workers in Northern Ireland.

Members of the US International Trade Commission voted in favour of Bombardier at a meeting in Washington.

Bombardier has been locked in a transatlantic trade war with US rival Boeing. It revolves around its part-Belfast made C Series passenger jets, which Boeing claims are being sold at below cost and are being fuelled by government subsidies.

The move has been welcomed by British Prime Minister Theresa May, who said on Twitter: "I welcome this decision, which is good news for British industry. Bombardier and its innovative workforce play a vital role in the Northern Ireland economy.£

Bombardier employs around 4,000 workers in Northern Ireland.

The US Commerce Department had planned to impose duties of 292% on imports of Bombardier's C Series commercial jets to America.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Bombardier said: "Today's (Friday) decision is a victory for innovation, competition, and the rule of law. The C Series is the most innovative and efficient new aircraft in a generation. Its development and production represent thousands of jobs in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom."

"Its development and production represent thousands of jobs in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. We are extremely proud of our employees, investors and suppliers who have worked together to bring this remarkable aircraft to the market."

A spokesperson for US company Boeing said it was "disappointed" in the decision, and that the International Trade Commission did not recognise "the harm that Boeing has suffered from the billions of dollars in illegal  subsidies that the Department of Commerce found Bombardier received and used to dump aircraft in the U.S. small single-aisle airplane market".

"Those violations have harmed the U.S. aerospace industry, and we are feeling the effects of those unfair business practices in the market every day."

It said it would review the Commission's more detailed opinions as they are released in the coming days.

"Global trade only works if everyone adheres to the rules we have all agreed to. That’s a belief we will continue to defend," the spokesperson added.

East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson, whose constituency is home to Bombardier's purpose-built C Series factory, said it was "fantastic news" for the company and its workers.

"This has been a very difficult time for those staff who faced an uncertain future," he said.

"Even in recent days there some pessimism had grown, but Bombardier’s greatest strength here in Belfast is the quality of those workers and the product they deliver.

"Right from the outset management have worked tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome and I would pay tribute to their fortitude throughout this process."

Trade union Unite, which represents a large number of Bombardier's workers, said workers in Northern Ireland and throughout its UK supply chain were "breathing a massive sigh of relief".

Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary, said: "Bombardier workers in Northern Ireland and throughout the supply chain in UK will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that the International Trade Commission has seen through Boeing’s baseless complaint.

“It is a right and just decision which is in no small part down to the tireless campaign by Unite members and shop stewards."

Unite regional officer for the union’s membership at Bombardier in Northern Ireland Susan Fitzgerald said: "While celebrating this victory we must take nothing for granted. This decision must now be enforced; Bombardier itself now must reiterate its commitment to the Northern Ireland workforce and end the outsourcing of jobs to low-cost centres."

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