The U.S. and the European Union agreed to work together to shape the rules and standards around crucial technologies and coordinate their approaches to key trade issues at an inaugural meeting of a new cooperation body.
Following a gathering in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council set out how the economies will collaborate in areas ranging from screening potentially hostile foreign investments and exports controls, to artificial intelligence and ensuring the security of semiconductor supply chains.
“We stand together in continuing to protect our businesses, consumers, and workers from unfair trade practices, in particular those posed by non-market economies, that are undermining the world trading system,” the parties said in a joint statement.
The TTC, launched by President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this summer, saw the participation of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the U.S. side. European Commission Vice Presidents Valdis Dombrovskis and Margrethe Vestager, as well as EU Ambassador to the U.S. Stavros Lambrinidis, were there for the EU.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Dombrovskis said the council, referred to as TTC, was about joining forces with the U.S. on sensitive technologies to make sure that they don’t end up in the wrong hands and protecting economies and companies from risky investments, as well as controlling sensitive technologies in the future.
On Bloomberg Television this week, Dombrovskis said the TTC was about working with the U.S. on a “forward-looking agenda” even as the two administrations continue to work through what he described as Trump-era irritants, including a dispute over steel and aluminum tariffs.
Although the statement doesn’t directly identify China, numerous issues on the meeting agenda appear to be directed at Beijing, such as a discussion on non-market policies that distort trade and the relationship between rights and technologies.
The EU and the U.S. will “cooperate on the development and deployment of new technologies in ways that reinforce our shared democratic values, including respect for universal human rights, advance our respective efforts to address the climate-change crisis, and encourage compatible standards and regulations,” the sides said.
Wednesday’s developments “are a win-win for both the Biden administration’s foreign-policy agenda and Ursula von der Leyen’s digital Europe,” said Karen Kornbluh, director of the German Marshall Fund’s Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative and former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “There’s a seismic shift in the global economic ground rules happening in Pittsburgh.”
That said, “there are clearly still tensions, which resulted in less progress on the key digital input of semiconductors than expected, and China is not standing still,” she said. But if the sides succeed, “the result will be greater innovation and protection of human rights and security.”
Preparations for the meeting were held up following the fallout from the massive submarine deal that France lost to the U.S. earlier this month. Paris tried and failed to delay the meeting, and then demanded that aspects of it be watered down.
The scope of the semiconductor discussion was narrowed in the final version, which was only approved by European governments hours before the summit, to focus on shorter-term supply-chain issues. The longer-term implications have been delayed until a future gathering.
“The dedicated track on semiconductor issues will initially focus on short-term supply-chain issues,” according to the statement.
“Cooperation on mid- and long-term strategic semiconductor issues will begin in the relevant TTC working groups ahead of the next TTC meeting.”
Other outcomes include commitments to exchange information related to investment screening; cooperate on export controls relating to sensitive technologies; develop and implement AI in ways that reflect democratic values and respect universal human rights; and to work together on global trade challenges, including by jointly addressing non-market and trade-distortive policies and practices.
Future meetings of the TTC will also address technology standards, clean tech, data governance and the misuse of technology.
“We intend to cooperate to effectively address the misuse of technology, to protect our societies from information manipulation and interference, promote secure and sustainable international digital connectivity, and support human-rights defenders,” the sides said.
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