The US government said on Monday that it may resolve a dispute with the European Union over punitive tariffs on industrial metals soon as part of efforts to clear outstanding issues that might hamper work on a new forum on trade and technology to be inaugurated this week.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and other senior officials from US President Joe Biden's administration will host EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the inaugural meeting of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council.
Formation of the body was announced in June, when Biden visited Brussels, as a way to promote "a democratic model of digital governance," and is seen as a wider push by the US leader to strengthen alliances that will push back against China.
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Talks to resolve the section 232 tariffs placed on steel and aluminium are "on a separate track that was started back in June with the announcement that we would work with the European Union on these sectors, with the aim by the end of the year having a path forward, and those conversations have been ongoing, and will continue to to proceed", one senior Biden administration official said in a briefing with reporters.
Asked about the prospects for a resolution on the issue at an event in Washington earlier on Monday, Dombrovskis was quoted by Politico as saying: "We can be moderately optimistic about being able to resolve this dispute and find this solution and, in essence, not continue this Trump-era approach of confrontation between EU and US in trade."
The agenda in Pittsburgh will include technology standards cooperation, supply chain security, data governance, "misuse of technology threatening security and human rights", export controls, and investment screening, according to another official in the US government briefing.
The first official added that a deal by the two sides in June to end a damaging dispute over subsidies to rival plane makers Boeing and Airbus, and phase out billions of dollars in punitive tariffs would serve as a template for cooperation.
The framework used to resolve that stand-off "will help strengthen the aerospace industry, help secure good paying jobs on both sides of the Atlantic and suspend the [World Trade Organization] sanction tariffs for five years", she said.
"The deal also lays the groundwork to address our shared challenges with China and other non-market economies."
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