French Finance Minister calls on US to end trade disputes with Europe

By on October 16, 2021 0

“My message to the US administration on these trade issues is very clear: let’s get rid of these areas of tension between the US and Europe as quickly as possible,” he said in an interview with the AFP.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Thursday called on the United States to end trade rivalries with Europe, stressing that a “strong” France and Europe are in America’s interest.

A key point of tension in transatlantic relations remains the dispute over steel and aluminum.

The Mayor was due to meet with White House officials on the sidelines of this week’s meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Former US President Donald Trump imposed punitive tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum in June 2018, citing national security concerns. The rights applied to allies and rivals of the United States and prompted rapid retaliation from Europe.

Joe Biden succeeded Trump as president in January, but has not decided to lift tariffs.

“There has been progress” in trade negotiations but “there are still pitfalls,” Le Maire said.

Both parties have until December 1 to settle the matter.

He called the conflicts “unnecessary” and “counterproductive”.

The French minister suggested that the parties should take “a few months” to find a definitive solution that would end the risks of a trade war – something he said belongs “to a bygone era”.

In addition, “they prevent us from working on much more important subjects” such as solving difficulties in supply chains including semiconductors.

Finance officials gathered for the IMF, World Bank, G20 and G7 meetings focused on supply chain bottlenecks that have created shortages of key commodities in many countries, driving up prices and threatening global growth.

The Mayor echoed Biden’s comments on Wednesday, citing the need to “gain our independence over semiconductors”, energy and other items.

Reliable and attractive partner

Countries can no longer accept a situation where auto factories are operating at half capacity because they depend on semiconductors that come exclusively from Taiwan, South Korea or elsewhere, he argued.

But this move towards self-sufficiency in the manufacturing sector should not be viewed by Washington as a threat.

And France is “a reliable, attractive and powerful partner in Europe” for the United States, and an attractive place for American investments, he declared. But unfortunately, this message “is not always understood in Washington”.

“A more independent Europe, which has its own technologies, its own value chains, it is not against the United States, it is good for the United States”, he insisted.

The American strategy is to “oppose” the rise of China, while the Europeans want to “engage” Beijing on issues of intellectual property, market access and human rights.

Regarding China, Le Maire pleaded for a pragmatic rather than accusatory approach.

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