EU, US End Trade Tariffs, Call for New Study on Origins of COVID-19, Summit Says
By Robin Emmott
BRUSSELS -The leaders of the European Union and the United States are expected to pledge at a summit in Brussels next week to end their transatlantic trade disputes and to call for a new study on the origins of the COVID-19, according to a draft press release.
The seven-page draft, seen by Reuters, seeks to show the concrete results of the “new dawn” hailed by European leaders when US President Joe Biden took over from Donald Trump in January.
The project, which will be discussed by EU ambassadors on Wednesday, pledges to end a long dispute over subsidies to aircraft manufacturers by July 11 and lift steel tariffs imposed there three years by December.
Despite pressure from US steel industry groups to maintain Trump’s “Section 232” national security tariffs, the draft said, “We are committed to working on lifting by December 1, 2021. of any additional / punitive tariffs on both sides related to our steel and aluminum. dispute. ”
The EU and the US are the world’s main trading powers, along with China, but Trump has sought to sideline the EU.
After concluding a free trade agreement with the EU, the Trump administration has focused on reducing the growing US deficit in merchandise trade. Biden, however, sees the EU as an ally in promoting free trade, as well as fighting climate change and ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the Brussels summit, the two sides will agree to cooperate on Chinese policy and will also call for a new study on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, detected for the first time in the Chinese city of Wuhan, according to the project.
“We call for progress on a transparent, evidence-based study… on the origins of COVID-19, which is interference-free, ”the project said.
The two dominant theories are that the virus passed from animals, perhaps bats, to humans, or that it escaped from a virology lab in Wuhan. Members of a WHO team that traveled to China this year to investigate COVIDThe -19 origin said they did not have access to all the data, fueling the debate.
If accepted, the common position on China will be a boost for the Biden administration, which is seeking friends to stand up to Beijing but has said it will not force any ally to choose sides.
The European Union has so far tried to maintain a strategic balance that avoids alienating either China or the United States.
But China’s military expansion, its claims of sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, and the massive detentions of Uyghur Muslims in northwest China have changed the mood in Brussels.
“We intend to consult and cooperate closely on all issues under our respective China-like multifaceted approaches, which include elements of cooperation, competition and systemic rivalry,” said the project.
He also pledged an effort to help immunize at least two-thirds of the world’s population against COVID-19 by the end of 2022.