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At a summit in Brussels next week, the European Union and the United States intend to end their transatlantic disputes over metals and aircraft trade and call for progress on new research into the origins of COVID-19, according to the draft communiqué.
Seven page draft seen Reuters, aims to show the concrete results of a “new dawn” hailed by EU leaders when US President Joe Biden replaced Donald Trump in January.
The project, which was discussed by EU ambassadors on Wednesday, pledges to end a long-standing dispute over subsidies to aircraft manufacturers by July 11 and set a December 1 deadline for lifting punitive tariffs linked to the steel and aluminum trade dispute.
Despite pressure from American steel groups to maintain Trump’s Section 232 national security tariffs, the draft states: “We are committed to working to eliminate by December 1, 2021, all additional / penalty tariffs on both sides associated with our steel and aluminum. dispute.”
Sources in the metallurgical industry told Reuters the language could target reciprocal tariffs on both sides, such as whiskey and motorcycles, not necessarily the underlying 25% US tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminum. An agreement between the US and the EU in May, aimed at staving off an escalation of the dispute, kept them in place, while the two sides negotiate for six months to eliminate global excess metal mining, mostly concentrated in China.
Some 12 EU countries are weighing a proposal to extend their own “safeguard” steel quotas beyond the end of June to protect European steelmakers from a flood of imports.
Biden will meet with EU President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, who represents EU governments, and pledges to promote international cooperation in the fight against global warming.
The EU and the US are the world’s leading trading powers, along with China, but Trump has sought to push back the EU.
Following the termination of the free trade agreement with the EU, the Trump administration has focused on reducing the growing US deficit in trade in goods. Biden, however, sees the EU as an ally in promoting free trade as well as fighting climate change and ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the summit in Brussels, the two sides will agree to cooperate on China’s policy and are calling for new research into the causes of the pandemic, first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the draft says.
“We call for progress in a transparent, evidence-based and expert-led phase 2 study on the origins of COVID-19 that requires no intervention,” the project says.
Two prevailing theories are that the virus passed from animals, perhaps bats, to humans, or that it escaped from a virology laboratory in Wuhan. Members of the WHO team, who visited China this year to investigate the origins of COVID-19, said they were not given access to all of the data.
Despite the pledge of support, the EU “is not going to launch its own investigation,” said one EU diplomat. “We are not against China.”
A second EU diplomat said the group “has no intelligence services and we are not going to try to conduct this search for origins through the agencies of our member states,” adding: “Americans can still talk to European services in member states, but we are not going to interfere. “
Despite reservations, if an agreement is reached, the joint stance on China will be an incentive for the Biden administration, which is looking for friends to oppose Beijing, but has said it will not force any ally to choose a side.
In making a concession to the EU, the draft does not mention Biden’s proposals to drop vaccine patents in order to increase global production. Instead, it is committed to lowering U.S. export restrictions and promoting voluntary technology transfers.
The task of fully vaccinating the world is expected to be a long one. The text says the United States and the EU “aim to vaccinate at least two-thirds of the world’s population by the end of 2022.” This means that by 2023, 2.5 billion people worldwide may not be vaccinated.
EU states have so far tried to maintain a strategic balance to avoid alienating either China or the United States.
But China’s military expansion, its claims to sovereignty over much of the South China Sea, and the massive detentions of Uighur Muslims in northwest China have changed the mood in Brussels.
“We intend to closely consult and cooperate on the full range of issues as part of our similar multilateral approach to China, which includes elements of cooperation, competition and systemic rivalry,” the draft says.
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