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DUP not one bit happy with US decision that could cost Northern Ireland thousands of jobs

The US is hitting aircraft constructors Bombardier with massive tariffs after rival firm Boeing alleged it sold jets to Delta Airlines at below-cost prices.

Bombardier trade dispute Flags flying above the Bombardier aerospace plant in east Belfast Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

THE DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST Party (DUP) has expressed its chagrin at a US government decision to hit Canadian aircraft firm Bombardier with massive tariffs.

Bombardier landed itself in hot water with the US Treasury when selling a series of 100- to 150-seat aircraft to American carrier Delta airlines at below cost prices.

Now the US has announced that Bombardier will be forced to pay anti-dumping duties of 220% on all the C Series jets it constructs.

Rival aerospace giant Boeing had accused Bombardier of such ‘dumping’ – that is, selling jets at an enormous loss in order to gain market share.

Both Canada and the UK had attempted to persuade the US not to impose the tariffs.

Bombardier currently employs 4,100 workers at its east Belfast plant (and 8,000 in Northern Ireland in total), with fears being raised that the move by the US jeopardises those roles.

NI powersharing talks Arlene Foster Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Former Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster has described the American government’s decision as “very disappointing”.

“But it is not the end of the process and there are further steps that will follow,” she said.

The C Series is a hugely innovative aircraft that is vital to Bombardier’s operations in Belfast. It is this innovation that sets the C Series apart and it is not in direct competition with Boeing.

“It is important that representations continue between government and the administrations in Canada and the US as well as with the two companies. There has been recognition in London of how important the success of C Series is to Northern Ireland and I would urge efforts from Ministers to continue.”

East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson meanwhile described the latest development as “a very worrying time for the staff working at Bombardier and for the wider community in east Belfast”, while UK prime minister Theresa May has expressed herself “bitterly disappointed” at the decision.

While the American decision is a preliminary one, with a final determination set for 12 December, given President Donald Trump’s unequivocal protectionist stance when it comes to US interests it is a decision he is unlikely to veto.

“The US values its relationships with Canada, but even our closest allies must play by the rules,” said US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in explaining the move.

“The subsidisation of goods by foreign governments is something that the Trump administration takes very seriously, and we will continue to evaluate and verify the accuracy of this preliminary determination.”

The ruling will further test relations between Canada and Washington, already strained by the ongoing renegotiation of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which also involves Mexico.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau threatened last week to call off a $5.2 billion (€4.4 billion) purchase of 18 Boeing Super Hornet jet fighters from the US unless the case was dropped.

With © – AFP, 2017

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