US and EU promise joint action on tech issues, semiconductors and China

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US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, left, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, second from left, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, third from left, meet with EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, right, in Pittsburgh on September 29. Photo: AFP

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US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, left, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, second from left, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, third from left, meet with EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, right, in Pittsburgh on September 29. Photo: AFP

U.S. and EU officials on Wednesday pledged to join forces to address a host of technological and business issues to secure semiconductor supplies and counter China’s dominance.

The inaugural meeting of the Trade and Technology Council (TTC) drew up a long list of things to do, but perhaps the most important achievement was the symbolic restoration of good relations after the damage suffered under the administration of former President Donald Trump.

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“It’s just a spirit of remarkable cooperation and collaboration, and a desire between the United States and the European Union to work very, very closely together,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters.

But the summit also looked at forced labor, artificial intelligence, digital privacy and the protection of human rights activists online, as well as oversight of foreign investment in key sectors and control. exports of sensitive products.

The high-level meetings took place as industries around the world grapple with critical semiconductor shortages that are hurting manufacturing, including automobiles, and driving up prices.

The TTC was born out of President Joe Biden’s summit in Brussels in June, when he attempted to mend relations damaged by Trump’s aggressive actions against his business rivals and allies, as well as more recent missteps that pissed off Brussels.

The biggest thorn in the relationship are the Trump-era tariffs on steel and aluminum shipped from Europe, which the Biden administration suspended but not removed.

The dispute loomed over the technical meeting but was not on the agenda, although officials recently said they were approaching a permanent solution.

The ministers met at a massive WWII munitions factory and later at a steel plant in Pittsburgh that was converted into a state-of-the-art robotics research center.

Discussions were led on the US side by Blinken, Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Trade Secretary Gina Raimondo, and on the European side by EU Executive Vice Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis.

They did not announce specific actions but defined key areas on which to focus 10 working groups before the next meeting, which will likely take place next spring in Europe, according to a European source. “We collectively represent these largest economies,” Blinken said after the meeting.

“When we work together, we have a unique ability to help shape the norms, standards and rules that govern how technology is used.

“Seeking to alleviate the global shortage of vital computer chips, officials committed in their final communiqué to work together” on rebalancing global semiconductor supply chains, with a view to improving the respective security of the ‘supply’ and production, including more advanced chips.

Demand for electronic devices of all kinds has exploded since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, as more people work, study and play at home.

Semiconductor manufacturers have at times had to temporarily shut down factories due to Covid-19, leaving them struggling to meet global demand and crippling industries, including automakers.

Raimondo said the chip shortage was both an economic and national security issue, and called for investments in domestic manufacturing in the European Union and the United States.

The long press release does not mention China by name, but the world’s second-largest economy is omnipresent everywhere, especially in the frequent references to concerns posed by “non-market economies”.

“In addition to semiconductors, the parties are wondering how to work together to counter what they see as unfair trade practices by China.

So far, the Biden administration has maintained Trump’s firm line towards Beijing, maintaining punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, while the European Union has taken a less confrontational stance.

The ministers pledged to work jointly and through reforms of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“We stand in solidarity to continue to protect our businesses, consumers and workers against unfair trading practices, especially those posed by non-market economies, which undermine the global trading system,” the statement said.

But he also stressed the need to keep an eye on investments in sensitive areas – which Washington did when it banned Huawei from participating in the U.S. advanced 5G cellular network – and to control sensitive exports that could harm the market. national security.


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