Britain is in the midst of a trade row with US company Boeing after it slapped a punitive tariff on its Belfast-based rival Bombardier.
In a blow to Theresa May’s Brexit strategy, where a free trade deal with the US was a planned fall-back, Boeing imposed a 220% tariff on imports of Bombardier’s C-series jets into American, jeopardising its workforce in Northern Ireland.
The US Department of Commerce made this decision alongside claims Bombardier had received unfair state subsidies from the UK and Canada.
Bombardier denies this, and called the tariff “absurd”.
The Aerospace company has 4200 workers in Belfast, and is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest employers.
May has appealed directly to President Trump to intervene, and called the ruling “bitterly disappointing” on Twitter.
Jeremy Corbyn yesterday (Wednesday 27th September) weighed in to the dispute, taking the opportunity to take a stab at May’s Brexit strategy.
Speaking at the Labour party conference in Brighton, he said:
“A Prime Minister betting our economic future on a deregulated trade deal with the US might want to explain how 220% tariffs are going to boost our exports.”
A spokesman from Boeing said: “Boeing welcomes competition and Bombardier can sell its aircraft anywhere in the world. But sales must be made according to globally accepted trade rules.”
The Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, said: ‘This is not the kind of behaviour we expect from a long-term partner.”
The Conservatives are particularly keen to resolve the dispute to mollify their Westminster partners, the DUP.
The US International Trade Commission will rule in February whether or not to uphold this tariff.