US President Joe Biden walks with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, during the EU-US summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 15, 2021.
Yves Herman | Reuters
WASHINGTON – The United States and Europe will announce a new joint technology and trade initiative on Tuesday, part of a far-reaching effort by President Joe Biden this week to rally European allies and challenge China’s growing influence.
The US-EU Trade and Technology Council has three overarching goals: to create new global trade standards for new technologies, promote democratic values online, and find ways for the US and the EU to collaborate on cutting-edge research and development.
The result will be that “Democrats, and no one else, not China or other autocracies, will write the rules of trade and technology for the 21st century,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said at a press conference last week.
On the US side, the trade council is jointly chaired by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Ambassador Katherine Tai, the US trade representative, said a Biden government official who briefed reporters and requested anonymity to discuss ongoing negotiations.
Further specific goals of the council are:
- Coordination of standards for new technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computers and biotechnology.
- Making supply chains more resilient and independent of China.
- Reforms in the World Trade Organization.
- coordinate the regulation of technology platforms.
In the past decade, China has made huge public investments in its technology sector. The result is a digital economy and an internet controlled by the state and reflecting its political values: individual censorship is widespread, foreign websites are blocked if they refuse to censor sensitive topics, and private sector software can be confiscated to the interests of the state.
China is also aggressive in protecting its domestic markets, particularly by requiring foreign companies wishing to operate in China to cooperate with local Chinese companies and surrender intellectual property.
“Dealing with China’s non-market practices, its economic abuse and its efforts to shape the rules of technology for the 21st century will be an important part of the work of this council,” the White House official said.
The new trade and technology council is the latest attempt by the Biden administration to harness the combined economic power of the US and Europe to better compete with China.
On Saturday, Biden and G-7 members announced the formation of a global infrastructure initiative called “Build Back Better for the World”. The multibillion dollar plan will provide a “higher quality” alternative to China’s Belt and Road infrastructure project.
A pressing issue between the EU and the United States that will not be resolved at Tuesday’s meetings is the fate of the punitive tariffs that former President Donald Trump imposed on steel and aluminum in 2018.
Trump cited national security as the justification for the tariffs, but European officials believe that protectionism, not national security, was the impetus for the tariffs.
Biden has signaled its willingness to lift the tariffs and in May trade negotiators on both sides started talks that could resolve the problem by the end of the year.
“These negotiations are ongoing. They have been very constructive, but they will take some time, ”said the Biden government official. “So I don’t expect you will see any result this week” on tariffs.
Following Tuesday’s EU meeting, Biden will travel to Geneva, where he is due to hold an eagerly awaited summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.