Laura Fraedrich, senior counsel for global trade and national security with Lowenstein Sandler LLP, brings us up to date on the warming of relations between the U.S. and European Union.
Trade relations between the U.S. and EU have improved under the Biden Administration. Recently the U.S. rolled back tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, and the two had previously set aside their long dispute over aerospace subsidies. In addition, they have established a Trade and Technology Council, chaired by relevant agencies of the U.S. and European Commission, to address topics of common interest such as export controls and digital issues. Its first meeting was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the end of September. Finally, the two sides have at least temporarily resolved a simmering dispute over the EU’s digital services tax, which the U.S. had claimed was overly burdensome on some of its multinationals.
All of those developments occurring in 2021 were highly significant, Fraedrich says, and paved the way for future cooperation between the two huge trading blocs. But the actions are more than a reflection of a desire to resume strong trade ties. They are part of a geopolitical strategy by the long-time allies to assert leverage over China, and check its growing influence over the global economy. Concerns over China’s record on human rights, as well as a move toward authoritarian government, have motivated the U.S. and EU to take “a cooperative stance against a common enemy.”
There remain some unresolved issues between the U.S. and EU, such as trade remedies against olives from Spain and disagreement over the continuing embargo by the U.S. against Cuba. Nevertheless, says Fraedrich, these are smaller concerns that are of less importance that the positive actions taken this year by both sides toward stronger trade ties.
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