Shares of Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. (BA) slipped in pre-market trading Wednesday following news that China would impose punitive tariffs that could hit some variants of the company's biggest-selling family of aircraft. As part of escalating global trade tensions, Boeing is positioned to potentially weakened in its position against its main European rival, losing its grip on the crucial Chinese market. (See also: Stocks Post Worst Q1 Since Great Depression.)
Boeing, the biggest U.S. exporter by value, has seen its stock fall 2.7% as of Wednesday afternoon. At $321.89, BA reflects a 9.2% increase year-to-date (YTD) and an 80% return over the most recent 12 months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) Index has suffered on investors' fears regarding more protectionist trade policies coming from the White House, down 3.2% in 2018, while the S&P 500 has declined 2.5% over the same period. (See also: Cisco, Intel Only Dow Stocks Still Up YTD: CNBC.)
Tariffs of Up to 30% on Boeing's 737 Jets
In a retaliatory response, Beijing announced a planned levy on aircraft in a weight range that could include variants of Boeing's popular 737 jets. Single-aisle plans, such as the 737 and Airbus SE's A320 family, are expected to account for nearly 75% of the global market within 20 years, according to Boeing estimates.
The total tariff on American-made aircraft, if an additional levy is approved, would amount to as much as 30% on Boeing jets, according to Bloomberg and would represent a major win to Airbus as it could offer the French jet maker a leg up in China, where Boeing attributed over a quarter of its global deliveries in 2017. The world's most populous country is expected to become the largest market for aircraft by as early as 2020.
A Win for Airbus?
“Airbus will be the outright winner,” said Shukor Yusof, founder of Malaysian aviation consulting firm Endau Analytics. “It’s unprecedented and this is just the beginning. The U.S. stands to lose more from this than China.”
The news comes amid the communist state's greater plan to double down on building its own plane maker that could disrupt the market duopoly. State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., also known as Comac, is testing a new narrow-body jet. Meanwhile, Boeing has been pouring money into the country with new local production facilities, as it expects China to need more than 7,000 new planes at a value exceeding $1.1 trillion in the next two decades. (See also: White House Inks $4B Deal with Boeing—Time to Buy?)