UK warns Bombardier dispute could jeopardize its ties with Boeing

FILE PHOTO: Michael Fallon, Britain's Secretary of State for Defence, arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London, September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

BELFAST (Reuters) - Britain's defense secretary on Wednesday warned that a trade challenge taken by Boeing BA.N against Canadian rival Bombardier BBDb.TO could jeopardize the U.S. firm's relationship with Britain, one of its biggest defense clients.

The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday imposed an anti-subsidy 220-percent duty on the Bombardier’s CSeries jets, whose wings are made at a Belfast plant that is Northern Ireland’s largest manufacturing employer, following a complaint by Boeing.

“This is not the behavior we expect from Boeing and it could indeed jeopardize our future relationship with them,” British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told reporters in Belfast at a briefing in the historic Harland & Wolff shipyard, a few hundred yards from the Bombardier plant.

“Boeing has significant defense contracts with us and still expects to win further contracts. Boeing wants and we want a long term partnership but that has to be two way.”

Britain recently ordered the Boeing P-8 maritime surveillance plane and a new fleet of Apache attack helicopters. Its armed forces have deployed Chinook helicopters, the C-17 transport plane and the E-3 Sentry airborne early warning and command post.

“Boeing is an important investor in the United Kingdom and an important employer in the United Kingdom but we would prefer this kind of issue to be settled on a negotiated basis,” Fallon said.

“This is not the kind of behavior that we expect from a long-term partner and I’ve made that very clear to Boeing,” Fallon told reporters.

Reporting by Amanda Ferguson and Tim Hepher; Writing by Conor Humphries; editing by Guy Faulconbridge