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Deep concern over future of Bombardier jobs

The fact that political representations are being made at the highest level over an aircraft trade dispute provides a sense of the deep concern that exists in respect of Bombardier's future operations in Northern Ireland.

It is also a measure of the DUP's influential position as important prop to the Conservative government that Theresa May has gone directly to Donald Trump over the row between US manufacturer Boeing and the Canadian giant Bombardier.

The increasingly rancorous dispute centres on claims by Boeing that Bombardier received subsidies that allowed it to sell its CSeries planes at below market prices.

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

Mrs May has asked the US president to help broker a deal between the two companies and is also due to meet the Canadian premier Justin Trudeau in Ottawa next week.

It is not just the British government which is involved in this intensive lobbying.

Sinn Féin and the DUP have joined forces to write a letter to US vice-president Mike Pence over what they term a `very grave economic threat' facing Bombardier.

Michelle O'Neill and Arlene Foster emphasised the `serious implications' for the company's Belfast operation and urged the United States - `our friend and ally' - to think about the impact of the Boeing case `at this crucial and sensitive time for the future.'

Clearly, there is considerable alarm at the prospect of any threat to jobs which could arise from this dispute.

Bombardier is Northern Ireland's biggest manufacturer and employs around 4,500 people. It also accounts for ten per cent of the north's manufacturing exports, so it is entirely understandable that political representatives are fighting hard to protect this significant employer.

This is an unsettling time for every person who relies on Bombardier for their living and they will be fervently hoping that this issue can be resolved.

In wider economic terms, it is absolutely vital that the political lobbying works and local jobs are saved.

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