Key European Union and US trade officials on Thursday further consolidated recent advances on some major disagreements that have tainted transatlantic relations in recent years.
The EU trade ministers used a virtual meeting with US trade representative Katherine Tai to highlight the breakthroughs in the longstanding dispute over subsidies for aircraft production and the battle over steel tariffs.
US President Joe Biden is due to visit the EU next month to further develop cooperation in everything from fighting the COVID-19 pandemic to facing an emerging China as a disruptive rival. “I stressed the importance of sticking together with what is happening in China,” said Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Sigrid Kaag.
Germany’s optimism was further heightened when the Biden government spared the German company that oversaw a natural gas pipeline from Russia to the EU on Wednesday. This underscores how Biden seeks to improve relations with a key ally that was unresolved during the Trump administration.
Even if Germany is the juggernaut of the EU economies, France is its strategic partner in dealing with Washington, and the French Foreign Trade Minister Franck Riester praised “the very positive signals from the USA”.
And the European Union has also made its contribution. It was not until Monday that it pressed the pause button and temporarily suspended some pending measures at the heart of a steel tariff dispute. This would prevent the bloc from increasing some tariffs on US products like Harley-Davidson motorcycles and bourbon.
This was followed by the four-month suspension of the tariffs used in the long-standing Airbus-Boeing dispute. Both sides are now facing July 10th to find a new breakthrough. “The work is progressing. So I would say that this timeline is realistic, ”said Dombrovskis. “Of course it takes an effort on both sides, but it is possible.”