US, EU Trade and Technology Council: chip supplies, trade with China
Katherine Tai, US Trade Representative, from left to right, Gina Raimondo, US Secretary of Commerce, Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, Valdis Dombrovskis, Trade Commissioner for the European Union (EU) and Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner for competition from the European Commission.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
LONDON – The United States and the European Union have agreed to a “rebalance” of global semiconductor supply chains, in what could be the first of many trade and technology-focused meetings.
The US-EU Trade and Technology Council, known as TTC, came into being following Joe Biden’s presidential victory as the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, sought to overcome the transatlantic disputes in these areas. The Trump administration had imposed tariffs on the EU and the bloc was keen to find a solution with the new president.
Pittsburgh hosted the group’s first rally on Wednesday. Preparations for the meeting were delayed following Australia’s decision to cancel a submarine deal with France, opting instead for a US deal that angered the French.
The French irritation would have watered down the statement released by the two parties at the end of the meeting on Wednesday evening.
Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, chief executive of DigitalEurope, which represents tech companies and trade associations, told CNBC that she hopes the US and the EU will separate geopolitical and industrial issues.
“It is also in the interests of the United States to have a strong digital Europe,” she said over the phone.
What has been agreed?
So far, the two sides have agreed to “identify gaps in the semiconductor value chain and strengthen our national semiconductor ecosystems.”
In a joint statement, the group added that it is committed “to building a partnership on rebalancing global semiconductor supply chains.”
This area has experienced major disruption following the coronavirus pandemic. Demand for chips has exceeded supply in recent months, which has impacted the production of many products including cars, televisions and many other electrical devices.
This is a concern for the EU as it is currently heavily dependent on international supply chains.
As such, the commission is working on new policies to boost chip production in the bloc and reduce its dependence on other parts of the world.
Moreover, although the final declaration did not mention China, some of the commitments certainly seemed to be aimed at Beijing.
“We intend to work closely together to combat non-market and trade-distorting policies and practices, to improve the effectiveness of our respective national measures,” said the United States and the EU.
Officials have repeatedly criticized Beijing for not granting the same level of access to foreign companies as is given to Chinese companies abroad.
“Very satisfied with today’s exchange and joint statement with our transatlantic partners,” European Competition Officer Margrethe Vestager said on Twitter after the meeting.
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai also said she was “energized” by the meeting and looked forward to “strengthening our technology and trade partnership with the EU”.
What about commercial tariffs?
However, there has not yet been a breakthrough on the tariff front.
The US and the EU agreed in early summer to find a compromise on the current steel and aluminum tariffs, imposed during the Trump presidency, by the end of November.
Speaking earlier this week, EU Trade Chief Valdis Dombrovskis told Bloomberg “time is running out”.