Joe Biden channels Brexit as EU trade snubbed – Brussels furious at Buy American campaign

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The EU is on alert over Mr Biden’s ‘Buy American’ campaign, with Brussels officials warning the US not to break international trade commitments. Europe’s trade chief, Valdis Dombrovskis, said the EU would be closely monitoring whether preferential treatment for US contractors on public projects conflicted with previous agreements.

Mr Dombrovskis told reporters this week: “We will be assessing to which extent the US complies with its World Trade Organization commitments under the global procurement agreement.

“As regards Buy American, this is something which will require some more in-depth assessment, what are the exact implications, what are the implications for EU companies, what does it mean for US commitments in the WTO framework.”

Mr Biden has already begun to tighten US rules forcing federal authorities to buy from American suppliers, directly channelling the “Buy British” Brexit campaign.

But the bloc has grown concerned these rules could breach Washington’s WTO commitments.

Under the WTO agreement, the US is granted access to other countries’ public procurement markets in exchange for keeping its market open.

While expressing concern for Mr Biden’s “Buy American” plans, Mr Dombrovskis was more positive about Europe’s plans to tax big digital companies.

He continued: “As regards to digital taxation, we see a willingness of the new US administration to engage really actively on finding a global agreement.

“Actually, just yesterday I had a conversation with the new Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen exactly, among other things, to discuss the issue on digital taxation and she clearly indicated US willingness to engage very actively and constructively in this and seek a global consensus.”

The trade chief said he was hopeful transatlantic relations would be easier with the Biden administration.

He added: “The signals we are receiving from the new Biden administration are broadly speaking encouraging.

“We see much more willingness to address our bilateral trade disputes, so we put on table our concrete proposal for suspension of tariffs as concerns Airbus-Boeing tariffs and also steel and aluminium tariffs and also our retaliatory tariffs, and to address the real issues concerning those disputes, so the question of future disciplines in the area of civil aviation and the future of global steel overcapacity and countries really driving this, first and foremost China.”

Earlier this week, reports emerged Mr Biden could be poised to deliver a bitter blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson over membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

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This month, the UK applied to join the CPTPP on the first anniversary of Britain’s official departure from the EU.

This agreement would not require the UK to give up control over its own laws, borders or money — unlike the EU.

But former Washington aide and commentator Peter Rough said it would be beneficial for the UK and US to be accepted into the agreement but speculated that the US is unlikely to join.

Washington aide and commentator Peter Rough told “I think it’s a great idea for Britain to join, and there’s a lot of momentum and talk in Washington that this would be a great way to counter the Chinese trade bloc, the RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership], in South East Asia.

“More generally, it will set the rules of the road and the standards for 21st Century trade, as it will be a big trading bloc.

“But I just don’t hear a lot of energy, a lot of language out of the Biden administration, that’s eager to pick up big trading organisations like this.”

Back in December, before a deal was struck between the UK and EU, Mr Biden side-lined a deal to focus on “America first”.

Speaking to the New York Times, Mr Biden said: “I want to make sure we’re going to fight like hell by investing in America first.

“I’m not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers.”

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