After NATO, Biden turns to EU for renewal of transatlantic ties

Published On: June 15, 2021 04:29 PM NPT By: Reuters

BRUSSELS, June 15: U.S. President Joe Biden will seek to end one front in a Trump-era trade war when he meets European Union leaders on Tuesday by agreeing a truce in a transatlantic dispute over aircraft subsidies that has dragged on for 17 years.

At the summit with EU institution leaders in Brussels, Biden is aiming for a reset in ties after four years under predecessor Donald Trump, who imposed tariffs on the EU and promoted Britain's departure from the bloc.

Biden and the EU side are set to remove tariffs on $11.5 billion of goods from EU wine to U.S. tobacco and spirits for five years. The tariffs were imposed on a tit-for-tat basis over mutual frustration over state subsidies for U.S. planemaker Boeing (BA.N) and European rival Airbus (AIR.PA).

"I am very positive that we will find an agreement on the Airbus-Boeing issue today in conversation with our American friends," European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference. Biden will meet von der Leyen and the EU's chairman Charles Michel, who represents EU governments.

Biden told NATO leaders "America is back" at a news conference in Brussels late on Monday. He is seeking European support to defend Western liberal democracies in the face of a more assertive Russia and China's military and economic rise.

"We're facing a once in a century global health crisis," Biden said, while adding "Russia and China are both seeking to drive a wedge in our transatlantic solidarity."

According to an EU-U.S. draft final summit statement seen by Reuters, Washington and Brussels will commit to ending another row over punitive tariffs related to steel and aluminium.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai discussed the aircraft dispute in her first face-to-face meeting with EU counterpart Valdis Dombrovskis on Monday ahead of Tuesday's U.S.-EU summit. The pair are due to speak on Tuesday afternoon.

Freezing the trade conflicts would give both sides more time to focus on broader agendas such as concerns over China's state-driven economic model, diplomats said.

The EU-U.S. summit starts at around midday Central European Time. Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken earlier met with Belgian King Philippe, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes. On Wednesday, he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

The summit draft statement to be released at the end of the meeting said they had "a chance and a responsibility to help people make a living and keep them safe, fight climate change, and stand up for democracy and human rights".

There are no firm new transatlantic pledges on climate in the draft summit statement, however, and both sides will steer clear of setting a date to stop burning coal.

The EU and the United States are the world's top trading powers, along with China, but Trump sought to sideline the EU.

After scotching a free-trade agreement with the EU, the Trump administration focused on shrinking a growing U.S. deficit in goods trade. Biden, however, sees the EU as an ally in promoting free trade, as well as in fighting climate change and ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

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