By Pan Pylas
LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May warned Thursday of growing protectionism in the global economy and hinted that Boeing could pay for its role in the U.S. government proposal to impose a massive tariff that could cost thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland.
Addressing a conference organized by the Bank of England, May mounted a strong defense of free trade, days after the U.S. Commerce Department proposed a tariff of almost 220 percent on Bombardier’s C series aircraft, a huge cost to exports that threatens more than 4,000 jobs in Northern Ireland.
Without directly threatening the Chicago-based aircraft maker, May said the actions of Boeing, which had sought U.S. government action over what it saw as unfair competition from Canada’s Bombardier, “is not the sort of behavior we expect from a long-term partner” and that it “undermines that partnership.”
May pointed out that the British government has various dealings with Boeing, particularly in the field of defense.
Boeing alleged that Bombardier received at least $3 billion in subsidies from the governments of Britain, Canada and the province of Quebec, allowing it to sell planes to U.S.-based Delta Air Lines for less than the cost of production. Boeing asked the Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate what it called “predatory pricing.”
Delta last year agreed to buy 75 of Bombardier’s new CS100 aircraft, with an option for as many as 50 more. Bombardier valued the firm order at $5.6 billion based on the list price of the aircraft. In response, Delta says Boeing doesn’t even make the 100-seat planes it needs for short- to medium-range trips.
The trans-Atlantic spat has raised concerns that Britain and the U.S. could end up in a tit-for-tat trade tussle. That is particularly problematic for a government that is negotiating Brexit and hoping to tie up a subsequent trade deal with the U.S.
One of the main…