Kansas lawmakers request probe into subsidies for foreign aircraft manufacturers

Aviation International News » May 2011
April 26, 2011, 6:50 AM

Two Kansas lawmakers have asked the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee to request that the U.S. International Trade Commission investigate the global competitiveness of the U.S. business jet industry.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R), whose district covers the state capitol, and freshman Rep. Mike Pompeo (R), whose district encompasses Wichita and its environs, are seeking a probe of “several foreign government-backed aircraft manufacturers” that have entered the business jet market in the past several years.

After listening to the concerns of the Kansas aviation industry regarding new entrants in the business jet market, Jenkins and Pompeo sent a letter to Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of Ways and Means, to ask the Trade Commission to conduct an investigation.

“In a down economy, which has been particularly hard on the aviation industry, it is concerning that foreign government-backed companies have launched new product lines into the business aviation market,” said Jenkins. “It is important that we know whether these foreign companies are receiving illegal government subsidies to alter the playing field.”

Pompeo, a former aerospace business owner, added that he has a keen understanding of the needs and challenges facing businesses in the general aviation industry. “Through the many years of grappling between Boeing and EADS, we’ve seen how damaging illegal subsidies can be in the aviation industry,” he said. “We must stay informed of the actions taken by foreign competitors in order for Wichita to maintain its status as the premier aerospace manufacturing hub in the world.”

Former U.S. senator Sam Brownback, now governor of the state, offered support for Jenkins and Pompeo. “The American aerospace industry and its workers design and build the finest aircraft in the world and are not afraid of vigorous competition,” he said. “But that competition needs to be fair and consistent with international trade law.”

This is not the first such request. Last year Brownback requested analysis by the U.S. International Trade Commission to focus, in particular, on the business aircraft industry in the U.S., China, Brazil, Canada and Europe, examining the composition of the current industry and the factors of competition in the global industry.

Pompeo said he expects a report from the Trade Commission in 15 months.

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