On the past few weeks, the Joe Biden administration has pursued two geographic bookends of U.S. foreign economic and strategic policy, namely the first public statement of the United States’ trade and investment policy towards China and the summons of the first meeting of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC). Substantial results were inconclusive in either case, leaving major political questions unanswered for Asian and European allies.
First, as before Noted, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai unveiling Chinese policy of the Biden administration did not define a strategy to deal with the fundamental business and technological elements of predatory Chinese state capitalism (e.g. huge subsidies to domestic industries, technology transfers forced, intellectual property theft and closed technology sectors). Tai thereafter was talking with his Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He, but the meeting was just an exchange of views in which Beijing refused to propose changes to current industrial and trade policies. Tai To declared that the administration would take action if the initial talks did not yield any concessions from Beijing, but the question remains open under what circumstances the administration will “use the full range of tools” and devise new strategies to counter Chinese economic aggression .
This lack of clarity in US policy will directly affect the future of the CTC, which, as mentioned above, first met at the end of September. The council was charged with a broad and ambitious agenda which includes working groups on semiconductors, artificial intelligence, supply chains, technical standards and cybersecurity, among others.
Ultimately, while there are valid independent issues such as privacy and international technology standards, the US-European alliance will depend heavily on developing a united front in response to predatory Chinese state capitalism. And within the EU, France will play a decisive role in Europe’s reaction to an emerging Biden China strategy – not least given the vacuum left by nine months of the new administration. screening on Chinese politics.
In addition, recent events (including France feeling of betrayal on the new US-UK-Australia underwater agreement) will certainly be added to that of French President Emmanuel Macron contestation on American-Asian and Chinese politics. But the problems run deeper than personal annoyance and represent a current of European thought – “strategic autonomyâ- which is potentially at odds with US policy towards China.
Of particular significance is a series of little-noticed interviews given recently by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire while attending meetings of the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC. The Mayor, close to Macron, told CNN that the larger reality facing Europe was that in the future the United States would give top priority to Asia, not Europe. On China, it told the New York Times, âThe United States wants to face China. The European Union wants to engage China. In this circumstance, continued Le Maire, Europe’s “strategic priority” must be independence “to defend its own economic interests, have access to key technologies and not be too dependent on American technologies”. With the TTC, we can already see this position playing out on semiconductors and, probably in the future, on artificial intelligence.
While the TTC working groups are undoubtedly hard at work, the board itself will not meet until next spring, leaving enough time for Macon’s strategic independence plans to challenge the goals of the TTC in parallel. This is not to minimize the role of the European Commission. But with German Chancellor Angela Merkel off the stage and an untested tripartite coalition that is unlikely to wield great power to begin with, France will take the lead in determining Europe’s future trade and technology agenda, with or without without the United States.
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Original author: Claude barfield