Aerospace firm Bombardier has described the US Department of Commerce’s preliminary ruling against it in its row with Boeing as “absurd”.An interim tariff of nearly 220% has been proposed on the import of Bombardier’s C-Series jet to the US.The Canadian company said Boeing was seeking to use US trade laws “to stifle competition.”The UK government and trade unions fear the ruling could put the jobs of 4,100 staff in Northern Ireland at risk. Boeing had complained its smaller rival got unfair state subsidies from the UK and Canada, helping it win a major order.Bombardier said in a statement that the ruling against it was “divorced from the reality about the financing of multibillion dollar aircraft programmes”.The firm said it had created a “superior aircraft” that is more efficient and comfortable but Boeing was trying to prevent “US passengers from realising these benefits, irrespective of the harm that it would cause to the US aerospace industry and the cost to airlines and consumers”.The case will now be considered by the US International Trade Commission for a final ruling in February.This is not the end of the Bombardier rowWhy is Bombardier important to NI?
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A UK government spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said they were disappointed in the outcome, but emphasised it was “only the first step in the process”. “Boeing’s position in this case is unjustified and frankly not what we would expect of a long-term partner to the UK – as well as damaging the wider global aerospace industry,” they added.But Boeing said the dispute was about “maintaining a level playing field”, and said its aim was to make sure that “aerospace companies abide by trade agreements.”There are fears the ruling will jeopardise a major order made last year from US airline Delta – a $5.6bn (£4.15bn) deal for up to 125 of the jets.
About 1,000 jobs at the company’s Belfast operation are linked to the C-Series, where the wings of the jet are made.Bombardier – which bought Short Brothers in 1989 – is one of Northern Ireland’s largest employers.Jimmy Kelly, Unite Regional Secretary said the decision to impose a tariff posed a “direct and very serious threat to the 4,500 Bombardier jobs in Belfast” and many more dependent on the company.The programme is not just important to Bombardier jobs in Belfast, but also 15 smaller aerospace firms in Northern Ireland – and dozens more across the UK – which make components for the wings.The Northern Ireland Executive and UK Government pledged to invest almost £135m in the establishment of the C-Series manufacturing site. The programme also received £750m from Quebec’s provincial government in 2015 when its fortunes appeared to be ailing.