US raises tariffs on Bombardier CSeries sales to 300%

Department of commerce’s move threatens jobs at Canadian firm’s plant in Belfast

More than 1,000 people in Bombardier’s Belfast plant are directly employed manufacturing wings for CSeries planes. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

More than 1,000 people in Bombardier’s Belfast plant are directly employed manufacturing wings for CSeries planes. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

 

The US Department of Commerce has delivered a further blow to Bombardier workers in Belfast by adding another tariff of nearly 80 per cent on sales of the Canadian group’s CSeries aircraft in the US.

More than 1,000 people in Bombardier’s Belfast plant are directly employed manufacturing wings for CSeries planes.

Last week, the commerce department announced it wanted to put separate import duties of 220 per cent on all imports of Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft.

The total 300 per cent tariff could more than triple the price of each CSeries plane sold in the US, rendering Bombardier uncompetitive in an already aggressive market.

The proposed new tariffs are the result of two investigations by the department into claims by rival Boeing that Bombardier was selling its aircraft below the cost of production in the US thanks to international government subsidies.

Bombardier has steadfastly rejected the allegations but the commerce department’s rulings have sparked widespread concerns among political leaders from Dublin to Ottawa, London and Belfast.

At the heart of the Boeing dispute is an order for 75 CSeries planes worth an estimated $5 billion (€5.57bn) which were ordered by Delta Air Lines and are due for delivery next year.

There are now concerns that this order could be impacted by the ongoing trade row and the commerce department’s decision.

Bombardier has stressed that the CSeries programme is “critical to the long-term future” of its Northern Ireland operations.

The Unite trade union in the North has warned that the tariffs could pose a “direct and very serious threat” to the long-term future of more than 4,000 jobs in Bombardier and thousands more in the supply chain.

Earlier this week, during a visit to Washington DC, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney told the US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, that his department’s decision on Bombardier could have “very serious” implications for the North.

Reciprocal trade

But on Friday, Mr Ross confirmed his department would impose a 79.82 per cent anti-dumping tariff on top of last week’s 219.63 per cent countervailing tariff on every CSeries aircraft sold in the US.

“The United States is committed to free, fair and reciprocal trade with Canada, but this is not our idea of a properly functioning trading relationship,” Mr Ross said.

“We will continue to verify the accuracy of this decision, while do everything in our power to stand up for American companies and their workers.”

Before the proposed 300 per cent duty can be introduced it must first be ratified by the US International Trade Commission next February.

Bombardier said although it strongly disagreed with the decision to impose tariffs it was confident that the commission would ultimately “reach the right conclusion”.