James Brokenshire says British Govt 'working tirelessly' to safeguard Bombardier in Belfast

The British Government is "working tirelessly" to safeguard Bombardier's operations and its highly skilled workforce in Belfast, the Northern Ireland Secretary has said.

James Brokenshire sought to address British MPs' concerns over a bitter aerospace trade dispute which could financially devastate one of the North's biggest employers.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has asked US President Donald Trump to help broker a deal in the spat between Boeing and Canadian aerospace giant Bombardier.

Speaking during the British House of Commons Northern Ireland questions, Mr Brokenshire said: "Our priority is to encourage Boeing to drop its case and seek a negotiated settlement."

His comments came as DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds raised the issue of jobs in the Bombardier plant in Belfast and urged the Secretary of State to "remain fully committed and involved with us to ensure that those jobs are safeguarded".

Mr Brokenshire stressed the Prime Minister was engaged on this issue.

He responded: "Whilst this is a commercial matter, as he knows the UK Government is working tirelessly to safeguard Bombardier's operations and its highly skilled workforce in Belfast.

"I remain closely in contact with the Business Secretary (Greg Clark), he has had extensive engagement with Boeing, with Bombardier, with the Canadian Government and the US Government."

He went on: "I do note that both the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Féin have issued a joint letter to the vice president underlining the particular circumstances, the real significance of this in Northern Ireland and I would certainly encourage all to play their part in seeking a resolution."

Bombardier, which employs around 4,500 people in Belfast and accounts for 10% of the North's manufacturing exports, is facing significant costs in the dispute.

The fallout centres on Boeing's allegations that Bombardier received subsidies allowing it to sell its CSeries planes at below-market prices.

The US Department of Commerce is expected to announce a decision on whether to impose duties against Bombardier on September 25.

The UK Government has been actively lobbying in the US for a compromise between the two companies amid growing concern about the potential implications for Bombardier's Belfast operations.

Mrs May raised the matter with the US president in a phone call last week.

However, despite the diplomatic efforts of the UK Government to get the case dropped and a compromise reached, Boeing insisted on Tuesday it is going to "let the process play out".


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