Gulfstream is unlikely to lose many sales because of proposed Chinese import tariffs, even if the taxes are indeed implemented, says a consultancy that closely watches the Asian business aircraft market.

At first glance the proposed tax on U.S. aircraft with empty weights of 15–45 metric tons (33,000–99,000 lb.) looks like a boon for Bombardier and Dassault, which compete directly against Gulfstream in building large, high-performance business jets but lag in sales in China. The weight range covers aircraft of that kind.

But buyers could easily enough use registrations from outside of mainland China and keep their aircraft based abroad, says Jeffrey Lowe, managing director of the consultancy, Asian Sky Group. In that case the aircraft would not be imported and therefore not taxed.

There is already a tendency among Chinese mainland buyers to keep aircraft elsewhere, because foreign registration and basing attract less attention in mainland China.

Maybe a few buyers who wanted a Gulfstream aircraft but insisted on mainland basing would be forced to turn to Dassault or Bombardier, says Lowe. But the numbers could not be great.

Gulfstream delivered 20 aircraft to mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan in 2017. At the end of 2017, 113 Gulfstream aircraft were based in mainland China. Another 86 were in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

The handful of sales that could be diverted by the tariffs compare with Gulfstream’s global deliveries of 120 aircraft in 2017.

Dassault, at least, seems to be quite unenthusiastic about the prospective tariffs helping it to gain sales at Gulfstream’s expense.

“Competition should be fair,” Dassault’s senior vice president for civil aircraft, Carlos Brana, told reporters ahead of the Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition.