U.K.'s Theresa May 'Bitterly Disappointed' Over U.S. Bombardier Sanctions

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Wednesday she was "bitterly disappointed" after the U.S. said it would put punitive import duties on a new jetliner made by Bombardier Inc., putting thousands of jobs at a Northern Ireland factory at risk.

The preliminary ruling by U.S. trade officials to side with Boeing Co. in a trade spat with its Canadian competitor Bombardier has political ramifications for the British leader since her minority government relies on support from a small Northern Irish party, the Democratic Unionists, to pass key legislation.

"The government will continue to work with the company to protect vital jobs for Northern Ireland," Mrs. May said in a tweet published by her office's verified Twitter account. Bombardier's Northern Ireland factory, which employs 4,200 people, produces 10% of the region's total manufacturing exports.

Arlene Foster, head of the DUP, said the U.K., Canada and the U.S. must continue to work together to find a solution. "Bombardier jobs vital for Belfast," said a message from her Twitter account.

The Northern Ireland factory makes parts for Bombardier's new CSeries jetliner. The U.S. government said it planned to impose a 220% tariff to the cost of the jet after Boeing complained last year that Bombardier was selling it too cheaply and had unfairly benefited from Canadian government support.

Bombardier, based in Montreal, said it strongly disagreed with the trade ruling in favor of Boeing, based in Chicago. "The magnitude of the proposed duty is absurd and divorced from the reality about the financing of a multibillion-dollar aircraft program," Bombardier said. The Canadian government said Boeing's claim is motivated by its desire to stifle competition to its 737 passenger jets.

Doug Cameron and

Jacquie McNish

contributed to this article.

Write to Jenny Gross at jenny.gross@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 27, 2017 07:43 ET (11:43 GMT)