Anal­y­sis: bul­ly­ing firm shows Trump’s ‘Amer­ica first’ pol­icy in ac­tion

The Guardian Weekly - - Finance - Nils Prat­ley

If the Bom­bardier af­fair wasn’t so se­ri­ous for work­ers in North­ern Ire­land and Canada, Boe­ing’s hypocrisy would be a bad joke.

Boe­ing is a $150bn ti­tan whose busi­ness is un­der­pinned by a cosy re­la­tion­ship with the US De­part­ment of De­fense and a near-du­op­oly with Air­bus in the mar­ket for large com­mer­cial air­craft. It is grum­bling about state aid for a firm a frac­tion of its size. It is be­hav­ing like a bully.

As Delta Air Lines, the US customer at the cen­tre of the dis­pute, has ar­gued, Boe­ing these days doesn’t make com­mer­cial air­craft as small as the 100-seaters it wants. In the­ory, an in­vig­o­rated Bom­bardier, if it was able to ex­tend its C-se­ries planes, might mount a chal­lenge to the US firm’s 737s one day. But that prospect is dis­tant.

Boe­ing’s mo­ti­va­tion in pur­su­ing this case is prob­a­bly twofold. First, caus­ing se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial dam­age to Bom­bardier may dis­cour­age more dan­ger­ous up­starts, such as Chi­nese and Rus­sian firms.

And more sig­nif­i­cantly – Boe­ing’s lawyers will have been en­cour­aged by Pres­i­dent Trump’s pro­tec­tion­ist rhetoric. It is use­ful for them to know what the lan­guage means in prac­tice. A lot, it turns out: the 219% tar­iff slapped on Bom­bardier’s planes for Delta.

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