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Pittsburgh, once the mighty heart of the US steel industry, will host the US-EU Trade and Technology Council meeting.
US President Joe Biden will use this week’s inaugural technology ministers’ conference with the European Union to push for solutions to the nagging semiconductor supply problem that has hit the American economy, officials said Monday.
But the Wednesday and Thursday trade and technology council meeting is also an opportunity for Washington to urge EU governments to join forces to address the problems posed by China’s trade practices.
Chip shortages due to manufacturing problems had a massive impact on the US economy, hampering auto production and driving up prices.
“The semiconductor shortage has been a top priority for the president and his economic and national security teams,” a senior government official told reporters, adding that the White House was “working overtime” to address the situation.
In fact, the White House held its third meeting with semiconductor industry executives last week to try to alleviate the current chip crisis and work on longer-term solutions.
But the official said: “It has also been a top priority for Europe” and the ministerial meeting will provide an opportunity to “further develop our partnership with the EU on semiconductors”, with a focus on “short-term disruptions” as well as longer-term problems with the Delivery reliability.
The high-level meeting in Pittsburgh was a result of Biden’s summit in June as part of an effort to re-launch the battered transatlantic relationship after tension sparked various trade disputes among former President Donald Trump, particularly over the steel and aluminum trade .
“The TTC is a platform to further strengthen our transatlantic trade and economic relations. This year we have worked to work again with our European allies, ”said another official.
Valdis Dombrovskis from the European Commission stressed the need to reform the WTO to deal with China.
The meeting has multiple avenues, from climate to artificial intelligence to digital security, but US officials also say the talks will focus on “our common challenges in China and other non-market economies” via “trade-distorting policies and practices” to tackle.
The talks will be led by Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Trade Minister Gina Raimondo and, on the European side, by the EU Executive Vice-Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis.
Reform of the WTO
In a speech on Monday, Dombrovskis also addressed the need for joint action against China, but seemed to indicate a broader, more multilateral approach rather than efforts between the EU and the US.
“We equally share concerns about the urgent need to tackle unfair trade practices emanating from non-market economies,” he said.
However, he called for a joint effort to strengthen the World Trade Organization, which was not designed to deal with issues such as force technology transfer, “aggressive industrial policy” and “massive industrial subsidies”.
Dombrovskis met with senior officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Monday and USTR Tai on Tuesday, ahead of the Washington Technology Summit.
The US Chamber of Commerce welcomed the meeting but called for a “quick fix” to the friction-causing steel and aluminum tariffs to expedite an agreement on technology issues.
“Removing existing barriers and avoiding new ones will enable even more workers to benefit from the most successful and networked business relationships in the world,” the group said in a statement.
The US and the EU are striving for harmony in the regulation of big techs
© 2021 AFP
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