US slaps 220 per cent tariff on jets built in Northern Ireland
In a major blow to thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland, the US department of commerce (DoC) announced last night plans to impose preliminary tariffs of 220 per cent on imports of Bombardier jets, which are partly made in Belfast.
Rival and aerospace giant Boeing had accused Bombardier in April saying that the Canadian jet maker was selling its C-Series jets at unfairly low prices in the US because of subsidies from the Canadian government.
“Bitterly disappointed by initial Bombardier ruling,” Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Twitter, adding that “The government will continue to work with the company to protect vital jobs for Northern Ireland.”
Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster, on whom May relies for her parliamentary majority in Westminster, also said that the US move to impose steep tariffs was “very disappointing”. She spoke about the economic significance of the Bombardier project to Northern Ireland and how there is a scope for an appeal and this ruling is not the end of the matter.
The UK unions have also demanded that the British government take action against Boeing and the US DoC.
Speaking about the 4,000 workers of Bombardier in Belfast who feel threatened for their jobs, Jimmy Kelly, the regional secretary of the union Unite, said: “Despite this blow, the Bombardier jobs can still be safeguarded. The UK government must now intervene to secure orders from British carriers for Bombardier aircraft — they should also immediately review all contracts with Boeing”.
According to Financial Times, the ruling can send a major setback to Bombardier, which has twice been bailed out by Canadian authorities after spending billions of dollars on developing the C-series. The Canadian aircraft maker has not found a new customer for its 100-130 seat aircraft since its controversial sale of 75 jets to Delta Air Lines last year, which triggered Boeing’s challenge.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Theresa May had raised concerns about the possible implications of the ruling in a telephone call with the US President Donald Trump.