Unsettling times for Bombardier and for believers in free trade

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

One figure stands out in the controversy between Boeing and Bombardier, with regard to tariff imposed on the latter.

The percentage applied by the US Department of Commerce is 220%, which is almost three times the 80% that Boeing was seeking.

You wonder if Boeing is actually uneasy at the scale of tariff that is being recommended.

Certainly American airlines have been joining the condemnation of the ruling.

There are two obvious reasons for concern for American businesses: the first is that such swinging penalties will mean that they are unable to avail of more efficient planes such as the C Series.

The second is the prospect of retaliatory action.

It is hardly the scenario that anyone in the UK who voted for Brexit was hoping for.

President Donald Trump has been a passionate advocate of Brexit, but ironically for reasons that potentially lead to a clash with a post Brexit Britain – nationalism.

President Trump, while he reversed his predecessor Barack Obama’s vow that the UK would be “at the back of the queue” for trade deals, is notably protectionist in outlook. This decision is a clear manifestation of such protectionism.

With a move towards protectionism in many parts of the world, these are not encouraging times for believers in free trade, but Brexiteers are right to keep alive the prospect of it, which benefit the global economy, in particular poor nations.

The Department of Commerce figure is not a final say on the matter. The International Trade Commission will determine whether Boeing suffered injury from the C-Series.

In the meantime, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon is right to warn Boeing that the move puts future contracts in jeopardy.

The pride that Bombardier workforces in Northern Ireland can have in their role in an excellent product will only give them limited comfort at this unsettling time.