Monday, 18 June, 2018

U.S. economy could be hit if Trump stops Boeing jetliner sales to Iran

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By Vahid Jafarian, Editorial Board Member

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that The Trump administration is weighing a strategy that could stop Boeing and Airbus from selling hundreds of passenger planes to Iranian airlines.

Boeing and Airbus have agreed to sell nearly 300 planes to Iranian Airlines. However, the U.S. administration is concerned that the airplanes could be used by Iran to send weapons and military personnel to Syria, according to the Journal.

In a statement to the newspaper, a White House spokesman said that the administration would not grant licenses for the sales unless Iran can offer assurances that the aircraft would be used only for commercial aviation.

Those sales were allowed under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, pending approval from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Analysts say if Trump could stop Boeing jetliner sales to Iran, American factory workers will be hit because their jobs depend on that sale.

Boeing said at the time the Iran deal was announced that it would support nearly 100,000 jobs at the company and its suppliers.

Likewise, if Trump nixes the Airbus sale, that could cause problems for the U.S. aircraft parts makers, according to Adam Pilarski, vice president with industry consulting firm Avitas.

“That would really annoy the Europeans,” said Adam Pilarski, vice president with industry consulting firm Avitas. “And that could cause problems for the U.S. because it could move the Europeans not to rely as much on American parts.”

Blocking the sales would also potentially lead Iran to abandon the nuclear deal, an alarming prospect for some of Trump’s national security advisers. The decision also puts in conflict two of Trump’s top priorities: confronting Iran, which he considers a threat to regional stability in the Mideast; and reinvigorating American manufacturing.

In December 2016, Iran signed a deal to buy 80 passenger planes from U.S. aircraft maker Boeing.

Boeing has about $20 billion in jetliner sales to Iran planned. If completed, the transactions would be the first U.S. aircraft exports to Iran since the Shah era in the 1970s.

Boeing and Airbus already have export licenses from the Treasury and Commerce Departments allowing them to sell plans to Iran Air, the country’s national carrier. The first Boeing deliveries are scheduled for late 2018. Boeing continues to discuss the sales with the Trump administration and has said it won’t go forward with the deal if it’s in conflict with U.S. foreign policy.

“We continue to follow the lead of the U.S. government on all issues related to Iran,” Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said on Friday.

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