Theresa May defends free trade, Bombardier; British pound rises

Theresa May defends free trade, Bombardier; British pound rises

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Thursday that free trade was essential to human progress and that she was disappointed with Boeing’s actions. The British pound made gains on the dollar during her speech.

Speaking at the Bank of England’s 20th anniversary of independence conference, May told the audience that free trade is the “greatest agent of collective human progress ever created.”

She added that capitalism “is unquestionably the best, and indeed the only sustainable, means of increasing the living standards of everyone in a country. And we should never forget that raising the living standards, and protecting the jobs of ordinary working people is the central aim of all economic policy.”

Her comments at the BOE conference followed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s criticism of capitalism at the Labour party conference in Brighton earlier this week. He told Labour party members that "the capitalist system still faces a crisis of legitimacy".

May’s comments come as Brexit negotiations continue slowly and fears over the rising bill the UK is facing, increase.

May also took questions after her address. The topics were broad and included Brexit. One response from the PM showed her commitment to remaining part of the EU, but on the UK’s terms. “We want to continue to play or part in Europe,” May said.

The row also arose. In her response, May told her audience:

“What I would say in relation to Boeing is that of course we have a long-term partnership with Boeing in various aspects of government and this is not the sort of behaviour we expect form a long-term partner and it undermines that partnership.”

Boeing complained to the US Commerce Department that Bombardier received unfair Government subsidies, allowing it to charge a lower price for its new C-Series jet. The complaint has led to a 220% tax surcharge on the jets. However, two future hearings could result in a different, final decision.

By Ilona Billington
Ilona is a freelance writer and editor with over 15 years experience reporting and writing about UK and European economics, real estate, financial markets and central banks.

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