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Deal with Vietnamese airline could be good news for GE workers in NC

In this file photo at GE Aviation’s facility in Durham assembly test technician Chris Patterson works on a new engine. On Wednesday, VietJet, a Vietnamese airline, signed a deal with GE to build 215 engines. The work will be spread to GE’s workers in several states, including North Carolina.
In this file photo at GE Aviation’s facility in Durham assembly test technician Chris Patterson works on a new engine. On Wednesday, VietJet, a Vietnamese airline, signed a deal with GE to build 215 engines. The work will be spread to GE’s workers in several states, including North Carolina. N&O file photo

With President Donald Trump in Vietnam for talks with North Korea, a deal was struck on Wednesday between a Vietnamese airline and General Electric, a move that could benefit GE’s aviation facilities in North Carolina.

The deal, which was part of several large aviation contracts between Vietnamese and American companies, was struck after Trump met with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong in Hanoi, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

VietJet said it had signed a $5.3 billion long-term engine support agreement with General Electric. The agreement would include 215 LEAP 1B engines and will be supported by workers in Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina, among other states, according to a release from the White House.

GE Aviation employs more than 1,700 people at several facilities across North Carolina, including Asheville, West Jefferson, Wilmington and Durham, according to a 2018 report by the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. The campus in southern Durham employed about 400 people as of last year, the Triangle Business Journal reported.

Efforts to reach GE were not immediately successful.

The VietJet-GE deal was part of more than $20 billion worth of deals.

VietJet also agreed to order 100 737 MAX planes from plane maker Boeing in a deal worth $12.7 billion. The deal was made provisionally in July last year, CNBC reported. And another Vietnamese airlines, Bamboo, agreed to buy 10 wide-bodied 787 planes worth $2.9 billion from Boeing.

“We are going to be signing some very big trade deals, buying a lot of different products from the United States, which we appreciate,” Trump said at the meeting, according to Nikkei. “We are reducing the deficit very substantially, as are many countries, but I very much appreciate the hospitality. Really something special.”

Trump is currently in Vietnam to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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