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Jan 26, 2018

U.S. panel sides with Bombardier in CSeries dispute with Boeing

U.S. trade agency sides with Bombardier in CSeries dispute with Boeing

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The U.S. International Trade Commission voted unanimously in favour of Bombardier (BBDb.TO) Friday, preventing the U.S. Commerce Department from slapping 292.21 per cent import duties on its CSeries aircraft.

Boeing (BA.N) filed a trade complaint against Bombardier in April, arguing the plane was subsidized by the Canadian government, allowing Bombardier to sell its aircraft at an unfair discount.

Bombardier's shares surged 15.31 per cent on Friday, closing the trading day up 47 cents at $3.54.

"Today’s decision is a victory for innovation, competition, and the rule of law. It is also a victory for U.S. airlines and the U.S. traveling public," Bombardier said in a statement shortly after the ruling. "With this matter behind us, we are moving full speed ahead with finalizing our partnership with Airbus."

Boeing released its own statement after the ruling, saying it "remains confident in the facts of our case and will continue to document any harm to Boeing and our extensive U.S. supply chain that results from illegal subsidies and dumped pricing. We will not stand by as Bombardier’s illegal business practices continue to harm American workers and the aerospace industry they support," the company said.

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister applauded the ruling, saying it will benefit trade and jobs for both Canada and the United States.

"Canada-United States trade is important to the prosperity of both our countries," Freeland said in a statement. "This decision will support well-paying middle-class jobs on both sides of the border. We are very pleased with today’s vote by the ITC, which confirms Canada’s position that Boeing is not commercially threatened by Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft."

However, one prominent trade lawyer said the decision could hurt one of Canada's key goals in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Canada has been adamant that Chapter 19 - one of the key dispute resolution mechanisms in the current agreement- be preserved in any future version of the trade pact.

"The Americans, I think, are going to be able to say: 'Look, Canada, you keep saying you don't trust our domestic processes. Look. They worked! [For] Bombardier, they worked. The ITC - an independent body - reviewed your case and ruled against one of our biggest companies. So, you are totally out in left field when you say that you have to have Chapter 19,'" Mark Warner, Principal at MAAW Law told BNN shortly after the decision was announced. 

"In some sense, it might bolster the American position, which is to get rid of Chapter 19 altogether."  

Delta (DAL.N), which has ordered 75 CS100 aircraft from Bombardier said it was pleased by the ruling.

It called Boeing's claim an "anticompetitive attempt to deny U.S. airlines and the U.S. traveling public access to the state-of-the-art 110-seat CS100 aircraft when Boeing offers no viable alternative" in a statement.

"The airline looks forward to introducing the innovative CS100 to its fleet for the benefit of Delta’s employees, customers and shareowners," Delta added.

Research group AirInsight cited Delta as one of the big winners in light of the decision, along with some of the smaller airlines operating in the United States.

“So the 292 per cent tariff is gone,” analyst Addison Schonland wrote. “Delta Air Lines can prepare for first deliveries this year, and go back to retiring MD80s.  Other U.S. airlines like Jetblue and Spirit, which wrote letters to the ITC, are likely to now express greater interest in the CS100.”

He added that Airbus – which took a majority stake in the CSeries program in October – could be the biggest winner of them all.

"The biggest winner today is perhaps not Bombardier, but Airbus.  Airbus got half of the C Series program for nothing.  It does not matter if now has to pay more for the other half."

The decision was praised across the Atlantic, as the United Kingdom's Business Minister weighed in via Twitter.

"Excellent news that Int'l Trade Commission found unanimously in favour of Bombardier. UK and our Canadian colleagues have argued consistently together from outset that case was unjustified," Greg Clark wrote.

"Big boost for workforce in Belfast which has great future with new orders."

Bombardier has a wing factory in Belfast, Northern Ireland that employs 4,200 local workers.