Canada-US aerospace dispute heats up before upcoming NAFTA talks

Frederick Owens
October 11, 2017

The row over USA trade penalties imposed on Canadian planemaker Bombardier has reached into Parliament as Labour accused the Government of putting politics ahead of Bombardier's Belfast workforce in a bid to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Washington next week when the NAFTA negotiations resume.

"A failure to do so will signal that any ambition ministers have for a coherent industrial strategy is effectively in tatters and that they are happy to put Trump's "America First" policy ahead of United Kingdom manufacturing jobs. May and her government need to be battling for Northern Ireland's Bombardier workforce which makes some of the most technologically advanced wings in the world".

Britain's Business Secretary, Greg Clark, arrives for a meeting in Downing Street in central London, Britain October 9, 2017.

The DUP man said: "What I have found most unsettling is the bullish statements that have come both from Boeing and from Wilbur Ross, the (U.S.) commerce secretary".

Freeland said: "Given the baseless and absurdly high preliminary countervailing duties announced on September 26, today's news comes as no surprise".

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On Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department announced that it would impose an 80-percent preliminary anti-dumping duty against importers of Bombardier's C Series 100-to-150-seat civilian aircraft following a complaint by Boeing that Bombardier allegedly priced its aircraft "millions below production cost in an illegal effort to grab market share in the U.S. single-aisle airplane market".

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Countervailing duties target what the USA considers unfair subsidies, while anti-dumping tariffs go after the alleged selling of imported products below market value.

Bombardier called Washington's latest decision "an egregious overreach and misapplication" of USA trade laws to prevent its C Series aircraft from entering the US market, and accused Boeing of also selling planes below production cost "for years".

"Are they afraid of being exposed in Northern Ireland for their failure to protect jobs, or are they so keen to score a sweetheart trade deal with the USA that they simply want to wash their hands of this matter?"

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"Every day during this process we have been engaged to get rid of this unjustified complaint", Mr Clark said.

Ross Murdoch, a national officer of the GMB union, said: "The government needs to go beyond fluffy words about everyone uniting and telephone calls from Theresa May to Donald Trump".

Bombardier is one of the biggest employers in NI, employing more than 4,000 people across the region in four locations.

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