Bombardier ruling saves NI economy from a hit and UK from trade war

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

What a surprise and what a relief.

What looked like it would become a long and ugly trade dispute with America over Bombardier planes has been halted by a key ruling in America.

The aircraft manufacturer, which employs thousands of people in Belfast, has won its case against proposals in the United States to impose tariffs of 292% on its imports to America.

Yesterday, however, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) said that the rival plane maker Boeing did not suffer injury from an order of Bombardier’s C Series passenger jets by the major American airline Delta.

The swingeing tariffs had been initially justified on the basis that Bombardier, by enjoying elements of state support outside the US, was at an unfair advantage.

Such an assessment threatened to run a coach and horses through one of the often cited potential benefits of Brexit: that it will help facilitate a world of freer trade and falling tariffs. That such a barrier would emerge in, of all places, Donald Trump’s America was particularly alarming, given that Mr Trump was such a supporter of Brexit.

The ITC’s ruling yesterday was an emphatic 4-0. The US Commerce department will have to overhaul its plan.

This wonderful and unexpected development means that the Northern Ireland economy will avoid a major hit. Britain too will avoid a bruising scrap with the US.