October 20, 2017 / 8:59 AM / a year ago

UK business minister travels to Canada for talks on Bombardier deal

A Bombardier CSeries aircraft is pictured during a news conference to announce a partnership between Airbus and Bombardier on the C Series aircraft programme, in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

LONDON (Reuters) - British Business Secretary Greg Clark will hold talks in Canada on Friday to discuss Airbus SE’s plans to buy a majority stake in Bombardier’s C-Series jetliner program aimed at helping it avoid high U.S. import tariffs.

Clark will meet with Canadian government officials and executives from the two manufacturers, according to a spokeswoman for the ministry for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

A deal announced earlier this week gives Airbus (AIR.PA) a controlling stake in the Canadian manufacturer’s troubled C-Series jets, which are partly made in Northern Ireland.

The tie up gives Bombardier (BBDb.TO) a possible way out of a damaging trade dispute with Boeing (BA.N), in which the U.S. Commerce Department has threatened to impose 300 percent import duties, potentially threatening thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland.

Under the deal, Airbus would take a 50.01 percent stake in the C Series and add an assembly line for the plane in Alabama, thus becoming a U.S.-made product so it can avoid anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties.

The Boeing-Bombardier dispute has snowballed into a bigger multilateral trade dispute, with British Prime Minister Theresa May wading into the debate and asking U.S. President Donald Trump to intervene in order save British jobs.

Bombardier is the largest manufacturing employer in Northern Ireland, which is the poorest of the United Kingdom’s four nations and remains mired in political sensitivities after emerging from decades of armed sectarian conflict.

Clark and Northern Irish politicians had welcomed the Airbus deal and promised to work with the firms to protect the workforce in the province. Bombardier makes the C-Series CS100 and CS300 state-of-the-art carbon wings at a plant in Belfast.

Reporting By Andrew MacAskill and Costas Pitas; editing by Michael Holden

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