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British PM May asks Trump to help over Boeing's Bombardier challenge

Reuters  |  LONDON 

By Elizabeth Piper and Guy Faulconbridge

(Reuters) - British Prime Minister has asked President Donald Trump to intervene in a dispute between Co and Canadian rival to help secure thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland.

British ministers have also approached directly in an attempt to get the world's largest aerospace company to drop its challenge against Bombardier, which could endanger a factory that employs 4,500 people in the British province.

is Northern Ireland's largest manufacturing employer and May's Conservatives are dependent on the support of the small Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for their majority in parliament.

May raised the issue with Trump in a call this month. She also plans to discuss the issue with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when they meet next week, a source close to the matter said.

May's trip had been scheduled in advance, and there will be other items on the agenda, a Canadian official familiar with the matter told

"You have to try everything," Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Tuesday when asked about the joint approach with Britain, adding that she had spoken to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday.

"We are as one. We are closely allied and are making our case in very strong partnership," she said on the margins of a cabinet retreat in Atlantic Canada.

A U.S. trade court is due to give a preliminary ruling on Boeing's complaint on Sept. 25.

"Our priority is to encourage to drop its case and seek a negotiated settlement with Bombardier," a British government spokesman said in a statement.

"The UK government is working tirelessly to safeguard Bombardier's operations and its highly skilled workers in Belfast."

this year asked the U.S. Commerce Department to investigate alleged subsidies and unfair pricing at Bombardier, accusing it of having sold 75 of its CSeries medium-range airliners to Delta Air Lines at well below cost price.

A spokesman for May said Bombardier's jobs were "of huge importance" to Northern Ireland.

A spokesman said on Tuesday the company would not comment on a meeting between heads of state.

May is likely to find it difficult to convince Trump, who has made 'America First' a theme of his administration, to get one of the titans of U.S. industry to back off from defending what it views as its trade rights.

But the DUP is certain to maintain its pressure on her.

"The engagement at governmental level with and with the U.S. has been significant over the course of the summer because this is pivotal to the Northern Ireland economy," DUP lawmaker Gavin Robinson told the Irish national broadcaster RTE.

"We're not there yet, and the work still has to continue."


makes the CSeries CS100 and CS300 state-of-the-art carbon wings at a plant in Belfast.

"had to take action as subsidized competition has hurt us now and will continue to hurt us for years to come, and we could not stand by given this clear case of illegal dumping," said in a statement.

"We believe that global trade only works if everyone plays by the same rules of the road."

called the allegations absurd.

"Boeing's petition is an unfounded assault on airlines, the travelling public and further innovation in aerospace," a spokesman said.

Industry sources said was unlikely to back down in the case, which mirrors a wider row with Europe's Airbus over subsidies that it perceives as a strategic threat.

The row could also reopen a debate over Britain's own support for in Northern Ireland. In 2008, the UK provided 113 million pounds in development loans plus other local aid for the production of CSeries wings, prompting a complaint from Brazil's Embraer. The European Union rejected the claim.

(Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Tim Hepher in London; Conor Humphries in Dublin; and David Ljunggren in St. John's, Newfoundland; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Chris Reese)

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, September 13 2017. 00:42 IST