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Boeing’s spat with Bombardier gets political as global leaders are drawn in

  • Boeing, a U.S. plane manufacturer, is currently locked in a legal battle against Canadian rival Bombardier.
  • As well as discussing a possible future free trade deal in Ottawa on Monday, May and Trudeau are likely to unite over plans to exert pressure on Boeing in order to convince the U.S. aircraft maker to drop its dispute with Bombardier.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is poised to meet her Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, on Monday in order to discuss a long-running corporate dispute threatening thousands of jobs in the U.K.

Boeing, a U.S. plane manufacturer, is currently locked in a legal battle against Canadian rival Bombardier and given the potential ramifications of the case include the loss of thousands of jobs, billions in illegal subsidies and potentially even a trade war, the dispute has forced international leaders into action.

As well as discussing a possible future free trade deal in Ottawa on Monday, May and Trudeau are likely to unite over plans to exert pressure on Boeing in order to convince the U.S. aircraft maker to drop its dispute with Bombardier.

Significant financial penalties

Boeing, with the support of President Donald Trump, claims that Bombardier is using government subsidies to dump its C-series planes onto the aviation market. The U.S. firm argues Bombardier is only able to do so because of the support it receives from Canadian and British governments.

Bombardier, which denies the allegations, faces the prospect of significant financial penalties if the U.S. trade authorities deem a punishment necessary. Further to this, while Bombardier is based in Canada, the firm also employs around 4,500 people in Northern Ireland and workers at the Belfast-based plant could be under threat from the ruling.

The area surrounding Bombardier's plant in Belfast is of critical political importance to Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – who May relies upon for her marginal governing majority in Westminster.

Encouraging Boeing to drop the case 'our priority'

The political ramifications of the dispute prompted May to raise her concerns in a phone call with Trump, it emerged last week.

"Our priority is to encourage Boeing to drop its case and seek a negotiated settlement with Bombardier," a Downing Street spokesperson told the BBC.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is currently investigating Bombardier's new C-series passenger plane with the International Trade Commission due to deliver a preliminary ruling on the dispute later this month.

May's visit to Ottawa on Monday is followed by a trip to the United Nations' general assembly in New York before delivering a much-anticipated Brexit speech in Florence, Italy on Friday.