Relief for Belfast workers as Bombardier declares victory in US trade dispute

The airplane manufacturer had faced 300% tariffs on its C-Series passenger jets

Relief for Belfast workers as Bombardier declares victory in US trade dispute

Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

The aircraft manufacturer Bombardier has won a US trade dispute, in a surprise development that is likely to help protect thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland.

Last year, the US Department of Commerce hit Bombardier with a punitive import duty of nearly 220% on its new model of passenger jet - the C-Series - which is manufactured in Belfast.

It was slapped with a further 80% preliminary anti-dumping duty in October - meaning it faced 300% tariffs.

The dispute centered around claims by rival US firm Boeing that Bombardier received unfair state subsidies from the UK and Canada - allowing it to sell airliners at below cost prices in the US.

BBC reports that the company - which is based in Canada - will now not have to pay the tariffs, after the US International Trade Commission voted to reject Boeing's complaints by four votes to zero.

The US company had argued its business could be damaged by Bombardier's imports - but the USITC ruled that the Canadian company's aircraft "do not injure US industry".

"A victory for US airlines"

In a statement, Bombardier said: "Today’s decision is a victory for innovation, competition, and the rule of law. It is also a victory for US airlines and the US traveling public.

"The C Series is the most innovative and efficient new aircraft in a generation. Its development and production represent thousands of jobs in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom."

The company added: "With this matter behind us, we are moving full speed ahead with finalizing our partnership with Airbus. Integration planning is going well and we look forward to delivering the C Series to the US market so that US airlines and the US flying public can enjoy the many benefits of this remarkable aircraft."

In a statement quoted by The Washington Post, a Boeing spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that the International Trade Commission did not recognise the harm that Boeing has suffered from the billions of dollars in illegal government subsidies that the Department of Commerce found Bombardier received and used to dump aircraft in the US small single-aisle airplane market."

British Prime Minister Theresa May was among those who welcomed the ruling:

Bombardier employs more than 4,000 people in Belfast and contributes an estimated £400m (€455m) to the Northern economy.

The company has said that its C-Series model is "critical" to its Belfast operation.

In October, aerospace business Airbus announced it would take a majority stake in Bombardier's C-series passenger jet programme - a move that was welcomed by Northern Irish leaders amid the international trade dispute.

Additional reporting by Michael Staines