Bom­bardier’s US sales tax ‘could be al­tered’ after deal with Air­bus

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - BY BUSINESS RE­PORTERS

BOM­BARDIER’S work­force here still hasn’t re­ceived as­sur­ances over its fu­ture de­spite US sug­ges­tions that a 300% tax on the C Se­ries could be al­tered, it’s been claimed.

Wil­bur Ross’s De­part­ment of Com­merce im­posed a pre­lim­i­nary duty on sales of C Se­ries air­craft to the US, fol­low­ing a chal­lenge by aero­space gi­ant Boe­ing.

That has since threat­ened the fu­ture of some 4,000 jobs at Bom­bardier’s North­ern Ire­land sites. Cana­dian-owned Bom­bardier pro­duces the wings and part of the C Se­ries fuse­lage in Belfast.

But Bom­bardier has now linked up with Air­bus, which has a plant in the US, in an at­tempt to avoid the crip­pling tar­iffs. Last week, Bom­bardier an­nounced a deal with a Euro­pean air­line for up to 61 C Se­ries.

US com­merce sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross re­ferred to the dis­pute yes­ter­day dur­ing an ad­dress at the CBI con­fer­ence in Lon­don.

“We have ob­vi­ously had dis­cus­sions here be­cause of Shorts (Bom­bardier) in North­ern Ire­land,” he said. “We as of yet do not know very much about the pro­posed trans­ac­tion be­tween Bom­bardier and Air­bus.

“As we un­der­stand it, they have yet to ex­e­cute a de­fin­i­tive agree­ment, much less real de­tails about where will things be pro­duced and all that.

“So it would be pre­ma­ture to sug­gest what, if any, im­pact that trans­ac­tion might have on the orig­i­nal pre­lim­i­nary rul­ing. Our rul­ings have only been pre­lim­i­nary and while the fi­nal de­ter­mi­na­tion gen­er­ally is pretty con­sis­tent with the pre­lim­i­nary one, that is not al­ways true.”

He pointed to a re­cent case in­volv­ing the US and Thai­land, in which the fi­nal de­ter­mi­na­tion “to­tally abol­ished” an ad­verse pre­lim­i­nary rul­ing.

“This is a fair and open process. It’s an open-minded one,” he said.

“To the de­gree that we learn that any of the premises in the orig­i­nal rul­ing were wrong or have been mod­i­fied, we would take that into con­sid­er­a­tion.”

He re­jected sug­ges­tions the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s han­dling of the C Se­ries case was a fore­taste of what the UK could ex­pect from the free trade agree­ment (FTA) it wants to strike with the US fol­low­ing Brexit.

“Even coun­tries with whom we are very friendly, as we are with the UK, and even coun­tries like Canada and Mex­ico with whom we have an ex­ist­ing FTA, you do have oc­ca­sional dis­putes, be­cause even friends and FTA part­ners need to go by the rules,” he said.

“The ques­tion is ‘was the con­duct be­tween the gov­ern­ments, Bom­bardier and Shorts within ac­cept­able stan­dards or not?’ If it wasn’t, then it should be ac­tion­able. If it was, then it shouldn’t be.”

“... we un­der­stand the po­lit­i­cal sen­si­tiv­ity both here and in Canada. We un­der­stand about Shorts in North­ern Ire­land. We get all that.

“But the fun­da­men­tals re­main: even our best friends re­ally have to play by the rules. We in­tend to and we in­tend that you will do so.”

But Davy Thomp­son of the Unite union said Mr Ross’s words were “a rou­tine state­ment of­fer­ing no as­sur­ance what­so­ever to the 4,000 Bom­bardier work­ers in North­ern Ire­land or the 20,000 work­ers in the broader econ­omy whose jobs are sus­tained by Bom­bardier ac­tiv­i­ties”.

“What’s needed is for the US gov­ern­ment to re­scind the puni­tive tar­iffs on the C Se­ries en­tirely. They are de­signed to ef­fec­tively shut the US mar­ket, the largest com­mer­cial air­lines mar­ket in the world, to Bom­bardier’s ground-break­ing C Se­ries planes,” he said.

A Bom­bardier spokes­woman said: “We con­tinue to de­fend our po­si­tion and re­main con­fi­dent that the US au­thor­i­ties will come to the right con­clu­sions.”

Last month, Bom­bardier an­nounced it is to cut another 280 staff in North­ern Ire­land.

Po­lit­i­cal sen­si­tiv­ity: United States com­merce sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.