The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Britain funds export of CSeries jets in aftermath of trade row


BRITAIN has thrown financial support for the first time behind exports of Bombardier CSeries jets part-built by Northern Ireland workers caught up in a recent trade row.

Export credit agency UK Export Finance said the financing for jets being delivered to Korean Air would support jobs in Belfast, where the Canadian planemaker operates a state-of-the-art wings plant.

The move comes weeks after Bombardier won a shock reprieve from severe US import duties on the 110-130-seat CSeries when a US tribunal ruled Boeing had failed to prove it had been harmed by low prices of CSeries sold to Delta Air Lines.

The Boeing-Bombardier dispute raised questions over jobs at Northern Ireland’s largest industrial plant and drew warnings to Boeing over its UK ties from Prime Minister Theresa May, who depends on a Northern Ireland party for her majority.

Although Bombardier receives some UK developmen­t funding, UKEF had long resisted Canadian requests to finance CSeries exports that partly compete with those of Airbus, the European plane giant which employs 12,000 people in the UK.

The decision to provide support reflects a power shift in the aerospace industry after Airbus agreed to buy a majority of the struggling CSeries last year, and is viewed by some experts as a reminder of ongoing UK interest in the CSeries’ future. “It is a small amount of money but a signal to Boeing,” a European trade source said, asking not to be identified.

For its part, Boeing has signaled it would sue Bombardier again if provoked to do by what it regards as unfair pricing of CSeries jets. But there are signs it is trying to defuse the row as it highlights investment­s in Canada and Britain.

Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg told Reuters last week Boeing was still examining whether to appeal the Internatio­nal Trade Commission decision to overturn CSeries duties.

However, trade analysts say an appeal looks increasing­ly unlikely, ahead of a March 12 deadline, as Boeing seeks to smooth over a row which soured relations with Canada and Britain and resulted in the loss of a Boeing fighter sale to Canada.

“We are very mindful of the relationsh­ips that we have in Canada and ... we do about US$4 billion of supply chain work in Canada every year,” Muilenburg told Reuters.

“But we also want to make sure that we continue to set a standard for a fair playing field and that we all play by the same rules, and that will be our consistent theme.” — Reuters

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