US, Europe Reach Agreement On Chip Supplies, China, Tech Rules

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Inaugural agreement between US and Europe to deepen co-operation centred around chip supplies, rules governing big tech, and trade with China

The United States and European Union have reached inaugural agreement concerning tech and trade in the years ahead.

In a meeting in a robotics and AI technology development centre in Pittsburgh (on the site of a former steel mill) on Wednesday, the United States and European Union agreed to deepen transatlantic co-operation to strengthen chip supply chains, curb China’s non-market trade practices, and take a more unified approach to regulating global tech firms.

The White House said the meeting was attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and from the other side, European Commission executive VPs Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis.

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TTC Forum

The meeting saw the launch of a new forum called the ‘US-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC)’.

“We support the continued growth of the US-EU technology, economic and trade relationship and cooperation in addressing global challenges,” said the forum.

“We intend to collaborate to promote shared economic growth that benefits workers on both sides of the Atlantic, grow the transatlantic trade and investment relationship, fight the climate crisis, protect the environment, promote workers’ rights, combat child and forced labour, expand resilient and sustainable supply chains, and expand cooperation on critical and emerging technologies.”

The two sides also pledged to co-operate on the screening of investments on “export controls” for sensitive dual-use technologies, and on the development of artificial intelligence (AI).

While the forum did not specifically mention China, there is little doubt that it was in mind when the forum said that with respect to global trade challenges, “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.”

French Anger

The meeting and the inaugural agreement has survived an attempt by France to derail it, because of French anger over the AUKUS alliance, that saw the US, UK and Australia agree to co-operate on defence and security matters.

This agreement saw the UK and US for the first time agree to share their nuclear propulsion submarine technology with Australia, to allow it to build a fleet of at least eight nuclear-powered attack class submarines to counter the growing threat of China.

As part of that agreement, Australia halted an over-budget and delayed $90 (Aus) billion deal with France for it to supply Australia with 12 conventional powered submarines.

The AUKUS announcement also saw the UK and the US agree to share with Australia their expertise in cyber, AI and even quantum computing.

Going forward, the new US/EU forum has formed 10 working groups to deepen co-operation on multiple areas including climate change, security, and misuse of technology to repress human rights.

There is opposition to this new forum from certain trade groups in the United States, worried that the US government will adopt a more European approach to tech regulation.