In Trump Era, Boeing Trade Case Boils Over Into ‘Multicountry Feud’

“Once you start politicizing some of these more technocratic disputes, it can escalate rapidly,” he said.

Boeing’s complaint alleges that substantial support from the Canadian government has allowed Bombardier to sell its CSeries aircraft at “absurdly low prices” in the United States, undercutting a valuable market for Boeing.


Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada have urged President Trump to persuade Boeing to drop its case against Bombardier.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

Bombardier has argued that Boeing is also a recipient of substantial government funding and that pricing new models more cheaply is a standard industry practice. In a statement last week, Bombardier called Boeing’s complaints “pure hypocrisy.”

Boeing is the largest beneficiary of the United States Export-Import Bank, which subsidizes American companies that send goods abroad. It has sparred at the World Trade Organization for over a decade with European rival Airbus over allegations that its subsidies violate the group’s rules.

“The perception in Canada is that Boeing is using U.S. trade law as a commercial weapon, and that it’s pretty hypocritical coming from a company that receives billions and billions of U.S. taxpayer subsidies,” said Roland Paris, a professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa.

The White House declined to comment on Boeing’s case.

The dispute has unfolded against a backdrop of rising trade tensions between the United States and its closest allies, especially Canada.

While Mr. Trump focused on Mexico’s trade practices during the presidential campaign, America has sparred with Canadian officials more often since his inauguration. The president has already traded barbs with Mr. Trudeau, criticizing Canada over what American farmers and companies have called illegal subsidies of dairy and lumber exports to the United States.

This week, officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States are meeting in Ottawa to hammer out some controversial elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement, including disputes between America and its neighbor to the north. In fact, some of the most intractable areas in the ongoing negotiations over Nafta are with Canada — like the United States’ effort to get rid of a particular type of trade panel…

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