The prime minister has promised to protect jobs at the Northern Ireland factory of aerospace firm Bombardier in an escalating trade dispute that has also seen ministers hint that US firm Boeing could lose out on future UK Government contracts.
Around 1,000 jobs at the Bombardier factory in Belfast are reported to be linked to production of the wings for the C-Series jet, which is at the centre of the row.
Following a complaint from Boeing, the US Department of Commerce published an interim ruling stating that Canadian-owned Bombardier received unfair subsidies from both the Canadian and UK governments.
It proposed 220% import tariffs on the importation of up to 125 of the jets by US airline Delta in £4.15bn deal announced last year.
Theresa May has said she is ‘bitterly disappointed’ over the US Government’s ‘affirmative preliminary determination’ and that the UK would work with Bombardier to protect ‘vital’ jobs.
The BBC reported that defence secretary Michael Fallon said during a visit to Belfast that ‘Boeing stands to gain from British defence spending’ but that ‘this kind of behaviour could jeopardise our future relationship’.
He added: ‘We don't want to do that. Boeing is an important investor in the United Kingdom – an important employer in the United Kingdom.
‘But we would prefer this kind of dispute to be settled on a negotiated basis and we will be redoubling our efforts with the Canadian government to bring about a negotiated settlement.’