President Joe Biden, top left, Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India at a virtual meeting of the so-called Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – one of the initiatives of The US that has affected its relations with its traditional allies in the EU. PHOTO: Bloomberg by Kiyoshi Ota.
Authorities from the US and the EU will try this Wednesday to overcome a couple of bitter disputes over their foreign policy, seeking to increase their commercial ties and agree on a common approach to maintain control of the most sophisticated technologies.
The inaugural meeting of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council is scheduled in Pittsburgh, with the participation of three members of President Joe Biden’s cabinet and their Brussels counterparts.
The session was nearly derailed after France’s anger over the US decision to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, which caused Paris to lose a lucrative contract to build smaller-capacity diesel-powered submarines.
This impasse came after general criticism from Europe regarding the US decision to withdraw from Afghanistan without first consulting with its allies. The episode left many in Europe complaining that Biden – despite promising to rebuild the unity of the alliance – was little better than former President Donald Trump, whose “America First” agenda alienated many. traditional allies of the US.
EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, who will take part in Wednesday’s dialogue, acknowledged Europe’s “disappointment” after the administration’s recent actions. But he indicated that both sides have had a rapprochement after having resolved this summer the long-running dispute over subsidies to commercial airlines and that they will now begin to address the shortage of microchips and regulations to the giants of the digital economy.
The biggest challenge for the new council will be to overcome a long history of similar transatlantic initiatives that have fallen far short of tangible achievement. More recently, in 2013 the Obama administration launched negotiations with the goal of forging a trade and investment alliance only to see them collapse three years later.
“There is a long history of efforts to establish these kinds of alliances that then collapse when you start to evaluate the practical applications and we discover that we are in different spaces,” said William Reinsch, a trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Center for International Studies). Strategic and International Studies).
Biden and European Commission President Úrsula von der Leyen agreed at a June summit to establish the council, which will address issues such as strengthening supply chains, export controls, investment limits and regulations. to artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.
But what will dominate the alliance’s agenda will be shared concerns about competition threats posed by “non-market economies,” a diplomatic euphemism for China.
Washington has been more forthright about the need to confront China, even accusing it of genocide for its treatment of Muslim Uyghur peoples. Germany, Europe’s strongest economy, has big auto and industrial export contracts at stake and for that reason is more reluctant to criticize Beijing.
Dombrovskis insisted that the council’s work is not focused on one country. But its list of problems caused by “non-market economies” echo US complaints about China’s mercantilist approach to global trade, including forced technology transfer, violations of intellectual property laws, State participation as business owners, and industrial policies “focused on achieving global dominance regardless of costs.”
The allies share an interest in restricting China’s access to cutting-edge technological innovations that Chinese state-owned companies could harness to profit from commercial gains.
“We must work together to ensure that our crown jewels do not all end up in Beijing. And we don’t want the Chinese to buy all of our good companies, ”said Reinsch, who was a Commerce Department official during the Clinton administration.
In an interview, Dombrovskis offered few details about the council’s main goals. Officials will be organized into 10 working groups with the mission of building a general “cooperation framework” instead of a traditional trade agreement. Some groups could produce consensual regulatory guidance while others would focus on simply issuing statements about common values, he explained.
“The results, in some way, will depend on the discussions and on how many elements in common we find in the different areas,” he said.
The EU and the United States remain divided on the appropriate approach to regulating digital corporations. In Europe, lawmakers have proposed the Digital Markets Act, which would implement substantial changes to the operations of companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon.
Dombrovskis also indicated that both parties continue to work around the repeal of the tariffs that Trump imposed on European steel and aluminum, seeking to reach an agreement by December 1. He is scheduled to meet with the US trade secretary, Gina Raimondo, who favors the tariffs, and the US trade representative, Katherine Tai.
Both cabinet officials and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will participate in Wednesday’s meeting.
The goal of the side talks on the tariffs is to seek an alternative way to resolve US concerns about excess cheap steel from China while repealing trade taxes that plague Europe. “We must cooperate rather than attack our steel industries, which are not the source of the global oversupply,” Dombrovskis said.
David J. Lynch is a writer for the Washington Post finance team, who joined the newspaper in November 2017, after working for the Financial Times, Bloomberg News, and USA Today.
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