U.K.'s Theresa May 'Bitterly Disappointed' Over US Bombardier Sanctions -- Update
By Jenny Gross
LONDON--British Prime Minister Theresa May said Wednesday she was "bitterly disappointed" by a U.S. decision to place punitive import duties on a new jetliner made by Canada's Bombardier Inc., putting thousands of jobs at a Northern Ireland factory at risk and as her defense secretary said the ruling could jeopardize Boeing Co. contracts with the U.K.
The preliminary ruling by U.S. trade officials to side with Boeing Co. in a trade spat with its Canadian competitor Bombardier has political ramifications for the British leader whose minority government relies on support from a small Northern Irish party, the Democratic Unionists, to pass key legislation.
"The government will continue to work with the company to protect vital jobs for Northern Ireland," Mrs. May said in a tweet published by her office's verified Twitter account. Bombardier's Northern Ireland factory, which employs 4,200 people, produces 10% of the region's total manufacturing exports.
Aside from creating a headache for Mrs. May as she seeks to pass legislation on her country's withdrawal from the European Union, the decision could also foreshadow complications as the U.K. and the U.S. prepare to expand trade ties once Britain has left.
The dispute underscores the potential for disagreements in industries like aviation, financial services and agriculture based on President Donald Trump's pledge to protect American jobs.
Arlene Foster, head of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionists, said the U.K., Canada and the U.S. must continue to work together to find a solution. "Bombardier jobs vital for Belfast," a message from her Twitter account said. She said her party would use its influence in government to protect the jobs.
U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, speaking in Belfast, Northern Ireland, said Boeing's challenge could put at risk the company's defense contracts with the U.K.
"This is not the behavior we expect from Boeing and it could indeed jeopardize our future relationship with them," Mr. Fallon said. "Boeing has significant defense contracts with us and still expects to win further contracts. Boeing wants and we want a long-term partnership but that has to be two way."