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Stakes are raised as battle for Bombardier jobs intensifies

While the ruling in the United States against aircraft manufacturer Bombardier did not come as a complete surprise it will be viewed with profound dismay in Northern Ireland where thousands of jobs are at stake.

Workers at the company will be feeling a deep sense of unease and anxiety as a legal battle taking place among multinational corporations thousands of miles away threatens their livelihoods as well as the wider economy.

It is a difficult time as we await the next stage in the process but there is no doubts the stakes are high.

Theresa May has said she is `bitterly disappointed' by the ruling from the US Department of Commerce which comes after intense lobbying on her part with direct calls to Donald Trump.

Her intervention appears to have cut little ice with the US department not only ruling against Bombardier but proposing a 220 per cent tariff on the sale of C Series aircraft, a move the Canadian-based company described as `absurd.'

Mrs May's government is now cranking up the issue with defence secretary Michael Fallon warning Boeing that its behaviour could jeopardise future military contracts with the UK.

This is undoubtedly raising the stakes and offers the prospect of a trade war involving the US at a time when the UK is trying to build commercial agreements for the post-Brexit economy.

The giant Boeing corporation is also a force to be reckoned with and has pointed to the 18,700 jobs it has created in Britain and its £2 billion spend in recent years.

Bombardier is looking beyond this week's preliminary decision and towards the International Trade Commission next year which will determine whether Boeing suffered any harm from the C Series.

The case is being made that because Boeing does not compete in the same market, it has not suffered as a result.

Workers at the Belfast plant and associated suppliers will be hoping this decision will find in Bombardier's favour but there will also be an expectation that Theresa May's government will be fully focused on securing jobs in Northern Ireland.

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