U.S. says Chinese government blocking Boeing airplane purchases

·2-min read
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo speaks during an interview with Reuters in Washington

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Tuesday the Chinese government was preventing its domestic airlines from buying "tens of billions of dollars" of U.S.-manufactured Boeing Co airplanes.

Raimondo said that China was not abiding by commitments to buy U.S. goods it made in 2020 as part of a trade deal with the previous administration.

"I don't know if Boeing is here. ... There's tens of billions of dollars of planes that Chinese airlines want to buy but the Chinese government is standing in the way," she said in a question-and-answer session after a speech in Washington.

Boeing shares fell 2.6% on Tuesday to $218.41.

In a separate interview with National Public Radio broadcast on Tuesday, Raimondo confirmed she was specifically referencing China's blocking of Boeing airplane purchases.

"The Chinese need to play by the rules. We need to hold their feet to the fire and hold them accountable," she said.

Boeing declined to comment. The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately comment.

Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun in March urged the United States to keep human rights and other disputes separate from trade relations with Beijing.

"I am hoping we can sort of separate intellectual property, human rights and other things from trade and continue to encourage a free trade environment between these two economic juggernauts," Calhoun said at the time. "We cannot afford to be locked out of that market."

Boeing last week raised its forecast slightly for China's aircraft demand for the next 20 years, betting on the country's quick rebound from COVID-19 and future growth in its budget airline sector and e-commerce.

Boeing estimated that Chinese airlines will need 8,700 new airplanes through 2040, 1.2% higher than its previous prediction of 8,600 planes made last year. Those would be worth $1.47 trillion based on list prices, Boeing said.

China's aviation authority, the first regulator to ground the Boeing 737 MAX following two deadly crashes, has yet to approve the return of service for the aircraft in the country. China accounts for a quarter of Boeing's orders of all aircraft.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and David Gregorio)

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