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Bombardier - the future of aerospace manufacturing in Northern Ireland

26 October 2017

Northern Ireland Affairs Committee launches inquiry into Bombardier, the largest manufacturing employer in Northern Ireland, involved in the production of wings for the C-Series Jet.

Purpose of the inquiry

April 2017, Boeing complained that subsidies from the UK and Canadian governments enabled Bombardier to sell below cost. In September 2017, the US Department of Commerce responded by imposing a 220% tariff on Bombardier jets. This was followed by an additional import tax of 80% in October, with both duties scheduled to come into force in 2018 and a final decision set to be made in February. News that Airbus has bought a controlling stake in the C-Series programme has given some reassurance that the case for tariffs has been fatally weakened, however the US Government is yet to comment.

Security of jobs at Bombardier

The inquiry will examine the security of jobs at Bombardier, and other Northern Ireland firms further down the supply chain, should the tariffs be imposed. It will assess the UK Government's role. How their involvement in providing financial support led to initial claims of subsidising production. How they can influence future developments given the involvement of three multi-national aerospace manufacturers and three other national governments. The Committee will also investigate the capacity of the employment infrastructure and wider economy in Northern Ireland to cope with redundancies at Bombardier, or other large employers.

Potential impact of tariffs

Launching the inquiry, Committee Chair Dr Andrew Murrison MP commented:

"Reports of a deal between Bombardier and Airbus have lifted the heavy gloom that hung over one of Northern Ireland's major providers of high-tech, high-quality jobs. It is great news. However, the potential impact of tariffs remains unclear. Given the huge importance of Bombardier in the Northern Ireland economy, it is right that we use this time to assess where we are with it, how it's position can be strengthened further and the wider impact on the region should job losses occur.

We must better understand the circumstances that led to this situation. As the UK is about to embark on a series of trade negotiations, most notably with the EU and US, we should  identify how well major employers in Northern Ireland are prepared to handle trade disputes. In this respect, I look forward to working with colleagues in the International Trade Committee who have a shared interest in this field."

Call for written submission

Among other issues, the Committee seeks evidence on:

  • What is the potential impact on jobs linked to Bombardier in Northern Ireland if tariffs are imposed?
  • What role has Government financial support for Bombardier played? Are other companies at risk of similar complaints?
  • How far does the proposed Airbus majority stake in the C-series Aircraft Limited Partnership go to protecting Bombardier and jobs in Northern Ireland?
  • What steps now need to be taken to ensure the deal is implemented smoothly?
  • Will the proposed Airbus majority stake in the C-series Aircraft Limited Partnership prevent further redundancies at Bombardier?
  •  How dependent are other companies in Northern Ireland on the success of Bombardier?
  • How prepared is the existing employment infrastructure to cope with any redundancies at Bombardier or other large employers in Northern Ireland?
  • What is the potential impact on the wider Northern Ireland economy if companies like Bombardier go out of business?

 Closing date for written submissions: 24 November 2017.

  • Send a written submission to the inquiry on Bombardier

Further information

Image: iStockphoto