Theresa May, the British Prime Minister has sought the help of Donald Trump to arbitrate in a dispute between Boeing Co and Bombardier, its Canadian rival, to help secure thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland.
To get Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, to withdraw its challenge against Bombardier, British ministers have also approached Boeing directly. The dispute could put a factory in the British province in danger. The said factory employs 4,500 people.
Bombardier is Northern Ireland’s biggest manufacturing employer. May’s Conservatives are dependent on the small Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party’s support for their majority in the parliament.
In a call this month, the Prime Minister raised the issue with President Trump. A source close to the matter disclosed that she also intends to talk about the issue with the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau when they meet next week.
On September 25, a trade court in the United States is due to give the preliminary ruling on the complaint of Boeing.
“Our priority is to encourage Boeing to drop its case and seek a negotiated settlement with Bombardier,” said a British government spokesperson in a statement.
“This is a commercial matter, but the UK government is working tirelessly to safeguard Bombardier’s operations and its highly skilled workers in Belfast.”
A spokesperson for PM May stated that the jobs of Bombardier were “of huge importance” to Northern Ireland.
PM May is likely to find it hard to convince President Trump, whose theme for his administration is “America First,” to convince one of the U.S. industry titans to back off from defending what it perceives as its trade rights.
However, it is certain that the DUP is going to maintain its pressure on the Prime Minister.
“The engagement at governmental level with Boeing and with the U.S. has been significant over the course of the summer because this is pivotal to the Northern Ireland economy,” Gavin Robinson, DUP lawmaker, informed the Irish national broadcaster RTE.
“We’re not there yet, and the work still has to continue.”
This year, Boeing asked the Commerce Department of the U.S. to look into alleged subsidies and unfair pricing at Bombardier, saying that it has sold 75 CSeries medium-range airliners to Delta Air Lines below cost price.
At a plant in Belfast, Bombardier manufactures the state-of-the-art carbon wings of the aircraft.
“Boeing had to take action as subsidized competition has hurt us now and will continue to hurt us for years to come, and we could not stand by given this clear case of illegal dumping,” stated Boeing.
“We believe that global trade only works if everyone plays by the same rules of the road, and that’s a principle that ultimately creates the greatest value for Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and our aerospace industry.”
The said allegations were called absurd by Bombardier.
“Boeing’s petition is an unfounded assault on airlines, the travelling public and further innovation in aerospace,” stated a spokesperson from Bombardier.
“We are very confident the UK government understands what is at stake and will take the actions necessary to respond to this direct attack on its aerospace industry.”
Sources from the industry said that Boeing was unlikely to give up on the case, which echoes a wide row with Europe’s Airbus over subsidies that it regards as a strategic threat.
The row could also revive a debate over the own support of Britain for Bombardier in Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom provided 113 million pounds in development loans including other local aid for the production of CSeries wings in 2008, provoking a complaint from Brazil’s Embraer. However, the claim was rejected by the European Union.