British PM May to talk trade with Canada’s Trudeau next week

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Getty Image

British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet Canada’s Justin Trudeau next Monday in Ottawa, with economic issues atop the agenda, a Canadian government official said Tuesday.

The two leaders will discuss an ongoing dispute between Canadian aerospace manufacturer Bombardier and the United States’ Boeing, the official said, a matter that could also affect Britain.

Brexit’s impact on trade will also be a topic of discussion, ahead of a free trade agreement between Canada and the EU (CETA) coming into effect on September 21.

Britain is currently Canada’s primary trade partner in Europe.

But the Bombardier issue is without doubt the most pressing, as Canada renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Mexico.

Bombardier is one of the biggest employers in Northern Ireland, whose Democratic Union Party is crucial to May’s majority in Parliament.

Of the company’s almost 8,000 Northern Ireland employees, about 4,200 work solely on aeronautics. Most are based at its Belfast factory producing wings and components of the CSeries fuselage.

In the spring, Boeing filed a lawsuit against Bombardier, alleging that it sold its last CSeries aircraft below its manufacturing costs after receiving more than $3 billion in public subsidies.

Boeing claims Bombardier sold American Delta Airlines 75 CS100 aircraft for $19.6 million, despite manufacturing costs of $33.2 million.

In October, the United States will decide whether to impose anti-dumping restrictions on Bombardier.

Canada’s foreign affairs minister on Tuesday criticized the opening of “anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations” by the US Department of Commerce.

The Canadian government will “continue to raise this important issue at the highest levels — as well as with Boeing itself — to defend Canada’s aerospace industry as well as Bombardier,” said Adam Austen, spokesman for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.