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Bombardier wins trade case in US. Huge win for fliers

Updated: Feb 12, 2018

Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier has won a landmark case in the US, overturning a decision to impose huge 292% tariffs on imports of its C-Series plane, partly built in the UK.

BBC - 27 January, 2018

The surprise ruling is a boost for UK jobs and a blow to US President Trump’s “America first” trade policy. It follows a ruling by the US Commerce Department in December that the UK and Canada had given it unfair subsidies.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and all parties welcomed the ruling - which safeguards thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland. Bombardier had been widely expected to lose the case, which followed a complaint by its US rival, Boeing.

But in a surprise ruling, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled unanimously in favour of the Canadian firm. Mrs May said it was "good news" for UK industry. "Bombardier and its innovative workforce play a vital role in the Northern Ireland economy," she said.

The ITC voted 4-0 in favour of Bombardier, ruling that there was no injury to US manufacturers. Accordingly, tariffs of 292% will not be imposed on orders of C-Series planes by US airlines like Delta, which ultimately is a win for US travellers.

About 50 companies in the UK supply Bombardier with parts for the C-Series. One thousand jobs in Belfast, where the wings for the plane are made, depend on its success. The BBC's business correspondent, Theo Leggett, said the move came as "a big surprise" as "most analysts thought the odds were stacked against Bombardier". "It is good news for workers at Bombardier's Belfast plant, where parts for the C-Series are made, but it's also good news for Airbus, which took advantage of Bombardier's struggles to take a majority stake in the C-Series."

A spokesperson for Bombardier said the ITC's decision was "a victory for innovation, competition and the rule of law. Its development and production represent thousands of jobs in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom."

A spokesperson for Boeing said it was "disappointed" by the ITC's decision and that it would "review the detailed conclusions when they are released". US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that the commission’s finding “shows how robust our system of checks and balances is.”

Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary said it was "the right decision". He said Bombardier workers in Northern Ireland and throughout the supply chain in UK "will be breathing a huge sigh of relief".

Business Secretary Greg Clark said it was "excellent news for the dedicated workforce in Northern Ireland and supply chain across the UK, who have a great future ahead".

"The decision by the International Trade Commission confirms what the UK and Canadian governments working hand in hand has maintained from the outset, that this case was unjustified. We are pleased that the ITC have now recognised this," he said.

The decision may end up helping Trump’s goal of boosting US jobs as the C-Series jets for US airlines will be built in the United States rather than Canada.

Through a venture with European planemaker Airbus SE, which has agreed to take a majority stake in the C-Series this year, Bombardier plans to assemble C-Series jets in Alabama to be sold to U.S. carriers starting in 2019.

Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders promised to push ahead “full throttle” with the Alabama plans. “Nothing is sweeter than a surprise, a surprise victory,” he said.

(portions contributed by REUTERS)

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