Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials on the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council Meeting in Paris
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks everyone for joining us. We’re going to just do a quick call to preview the Monday meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council. We’re just going to walk through what we’re expecting in the meeting and just some of the outcomes that will come out of it. We’re going to have more to say on the outcomes on Monday itself.
As a reminder, this call is on background, attributable to “senior administration officials.” The contents of this call are embargoed until this Sunday, 11 p.m. Eastern.
For your awareness and not for reporting, our speakers on the call are [senior administration officials]. So again, that was just for your awareness and not for reporting.
We’re going to do some remarks at the top and then try to take as many questions as we can.
So I’m going to kick it over to [senior administration official] to get us started.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks very much, and thanks to all of you for joining us today. As you all might remember, last June at the U.S.-EU Summit, President Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel established the U.S. and EU Trade and Technology Council. The U.S.-EU TTC, as we call it, will have its second ministerial meeting, as [senior administration official] mentioned, in Saclay, a technology hub near Paris on May 15th and 16th. The inaugural meeting, as many of you know, was held in Pittsburgh at the end of September last year.
And the co-chairs, just to remind everybody, are Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and EU co-chairs, European Commission Executive Vice Presidents Margrethe Vestage and Valdis Dombrovskis.
So, we made a lot of progress, I think, at the Pittsburgh meeting, including working towards common principles to update the rules of the road for a 21st century economy and technology ecosystem, including addressing non-market trade practices, enhancing cooperation on semiconductors and supply chains, exchanging information on investment trends that impact our security, shared principles on export control cooperation and developing and implementing technologies like artificial intelligence in accordance with our shared democratic values.
Obviously, in addition to all of that work that had been staked out at Pittsburgh, as you all are well aware, the TTC, I think, really laid the foundation for the really unprecedented cooperation on sanctions and export controls that you’ve seen in response to Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine.
So, at this upcoming meeting on Monday, the U.S. and EU co-chairs will review the progress we’ve been making and really the deep cooperation over the last six months, both by the working groups and all of the additional cooperation that spawned and will work to advance action on our transatlantic cooperation agenda with respect to democratic approaches to trade, technology, and innovation. And in addition, the co-chairs will be meeting with a range of U.S. and EU stakeholders to hear out their views on the past and future work of the TTC.
So, with that, I’ll hand it over to my colleague.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, and thanks everyone for joining us on this call today. We’re all tremendously excited about the second meeting of the TTC and really see it as a key opportunity to drive further cooperation across the Atlantic on a whole range of global trade and technology issues.
And I think over the last six months, as [senior administration official] says, we really have been able to drive close and enduring ties between the U.S. and the European Union. We’ve strengthened, deepened, and elevated our relationship.
And to give just a couple of examples of the kinds of things we’ve accomplished just over the last six months. Between the last TTC and this one, we’ve been able to resolve our disagreement over tariffs on steel trade, reaching an agreement with the European Union on steel trade. We also just earlier this year reached an agreement in principle on a new transatlantic data privacy framework to create legal certainty for transatlantic data flows. And then of course, as [senior administration official] mentioned, I think there’s been an unprecedented level of cooperation on sanctions and export control measures as part of our coordinated overall response to President Putin’s war on Ukraine.
I think on Sunday evening and Monday at the second meeting of the TTC, you’re going to see us deepen this partnership and announce a number of key outcomes, including deeper information sharing on exports of critical U.S. and EU technology, commitment to develop a joint roadmap on evaluation and measurement tools for trustworthy artificial intelligence and risk management.
You’ll see us announce joint approaches on technical discussions to the international standard-setting bodies, an early warning system to better predict and address potential semiconductor supply chain disruptions, a transatlantic approach to semiconductor investments aimed at ensuring security of supply through strengthened ecosystems and investments. As both Washington and Brussels look to encourage semiconductor investment in our respective countries, we do so in a coordinated fashion and don’t simply encourage a subsidy race.
You’ll see us announce a dedicated task force to promote the use of trusted ICTS suppliers through financing for deployments in third countries, be announcing a new cooperation framework to explore issues to inform information integrity in crises, particularly on digital platforms with a focus on ongoing issues related to the misinformation, false information that Russia is spreading related to its war on Ukraine.
You’ll see us announce a stakeholder-focused trade and labor dialogue to promote internationally recognized labor rights. We’ll be developing joint and coordinated strategies to address the adverse impact on the U.S. and EU economies of non-market trade distortive policies and practices, be establishing a policy dialogue aimed at developing responses to global food security challenges caused by Russian aggression in Ukraine, be announcing an early alert mechanism to identify and address at an early stage non-market trade concerns which may disadvantage the transatlantic economy.
We’ll be announcing plans to have a U.S.-EU guide to cybersecurity best practices for small and medium-sized companies whose business is impacted disproportionately from cyber threats. And we’ll be launching a new climate and clean tech-focused dialogue on lifecycle greenhouse gas assessments, methodologies on green public procurement and on electric vehicles.
So I think you’ve really seen us do a lot over the last six months and I think you’re really seeing us going forward, driving forward work across a whole range of issues that we had hoped to be accomplishing through the TTC process.
Back to you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. Let’s go to our next speaker.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great. Thanks, and good afternoon, everyone. Well, I won’t go into the deliverables. You’ve already heard about them in detail. But I would just say that the TTC is really a cornerstone of the U.S.-EU economic partnership, and promotes an affirmative agenda on key global technology, economic, and trade issues that is really based on our democratic values while working to reduce areas of friction in the U.S.-EU relationship.
And so our task is multi-fold, to put forward and carry out a compelling vision for global trade and technology in a way that serves our people, protects our interests, and promotes innovation and our democratic values, including respect for human rights. And as others have said, these efforts really reflect the deep and abiding partnership between the United States and the EU and its member states, as well as our shared values.
Together, the U.S. and the EU account for a quarter of global trade and almost half of global GDP and that represents a huge driver of economic prosperity for citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. And so, the goal here is really to find ways to ensure that our competition policies, our technology regulations are complementary and that our markets are ever more interconnected.
But in addition to addressing technical issues like supply chain bottlenecks and other things that have been described already, the TTC has really proven to be an agile framework that facilitates our cooperation on global issues. As has already been said, I think, our cooperation on sanctions and export controls is really a great example and the relationship and the shared, common operating picture developed via the TTC have really helped us to take groundbreaking steps in those areas, in response to Putin’s war of aggression.
And I would also just as a final note say that those types of steps that we have taken together would not have been possible without the work that we have done in the TTC and pre-dating the TTC and leading up to the U.S.-EU summit last year to really remove obstacles to deeper cooperation, and to focus on our shared values in terms of articulating an affirmative vision for trade and technology that promotes democracy, human rights, and other shared values.
And so, we really see that this deeper cooperation not only will help to deepen our trade and economic ties, but it also will help us to articulate a vision of the kind of world we want to see, and to help preserve the rules-based international order that we have created over the last 70 years.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great, thank you. Let’s go to [senior administration official].
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. You’ve heard a lot already, so I’ll be brief. And I thought I might just try to ground some of what you’ve already heard in the technical work that’s happening in the working groups.
And so, first, you’ve heard from all of us the priority we put on revitalizing transatlantic ties and advancing a common agenda that’s based on market-oriented democratic values. That certainly is animating our work at the Department of Commerce, the work that my colleague referenced in transatlantic data privacy framework, the work in relation to resolving disputes over 232 tariffs, and now in the TTC.
Export controls have already been mentioned, but I think it’s a prime example of where deep technical collaboration that was happening in TTC prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was able to be leveraged so we could move with remarkable speed to put in place these unprecedented collaboration on export controls. I guess the point that I would share, and again with a lot of ground already covered, is just that’s something that’s risen to geopolitical fore because of the crisis in Ukraine but similar types of technical work are being done on supply chains, on ITTS infrastructure, on standards, on AI that is really deepening our collaboration, helping us align the future of standards and policy in ways that I think will be exceptionally meaningful going forward.
So with a lot of ground covered, I’ll be brief and just stop there and look forward to questions.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great. Thank you. And for our last speaker, let’s go to [senior administration official].
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you very much and good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining. The USTR is very excited to join the second ministerial meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council with our colleagues from the State and the Commerce Departments next week.
Since 2021, Ambassador Tai has made it a significant priority to rebuild and revitalize our bilateral and multilateral relationships with our partners around the world. This work was part of President Biden’s vision to make America a leader on the world stage and partner with our allies on pressing global issues.
I think over the past year perhaps no relationship has seen more progress or success than our engagement with the European Union. In June 2021, Ambassador Tai resolved the 17-year-old large civil aircraft dispute involving Boeing and Airbus. In October, she announced, along with Secretary Raimondo, an arrangement to address global steel and aluminum non-market excess capacity, which will preserve the long-term viability of critical domestic sectors, help fulfill the President’s climate agenda and protect American jobs. We also terminated investigations of unilateral digital services taxes in Europe in favor of an OECD pluri-lateral negotiation.
The foundation of trust and respect we’ve built with our EU partners has enabled us to make tremendous progress in our collaboration through the TTC. So next week in France, you will hear Ambassador Tai talk about our joint commitment to tackling urgent economic trade and technology issues impacting people on both sides of the Atlantic. As you have heard, this cooperation is grounded on our shared values, specifically our respect for internationally recognized labor rights, for transparency, a level playing field, and the rule of law.
To give a few examples, through the TTC, we will establish a transatlantic labor dialogue aimed at giving labor a seat at the table along with business as we develop trade initiatives to ensure that they address the needs of workers. And this includes making sure that businesses and workers make successful digital and green transitions.
Second example, we will work closely together as we each take our own actions to defend ourselves against non-market economy policies and practices in third countries that unfairly undermine our competitiveness in new and emerging technologies, and that threaten U.S. jobs. And we will also work to avoid the negative impacts of those actions on each other.
And final example, we will undertake to consult with each other at an early stage on our regulatory and other initiatives that could impact bilateral trade to avoid as much as possible the emergence of unnecessary barriers to trade in new and emerging technologies, which would undermine a strong transatlantic market for those technologies.
And of course, we will continue the close collaboration you have seen over the past three months to isolate Russia from multilateral trading institutions and the global economy.
As Ambassador Tai has said many times, strong and durable trade relationships require regular engagement and consultations to ensure that both sides are aligned on key priorities. The Trade and Technology Council was created to do exactly that. We’re looking forward to productive conversations in France next week, and in the months to come.
I will now turn things back over to our moderator to begin the question-and-answer session. Moderator.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great. Thanks, everyone.
Q Thank you. Thank you, guys, for doing this call. I guess I wanted to ask kind of more broadly if you think the focus of this meeting will be Russia or if it’s shifting back to China.
And along the lines of the semiconductor supply chain issues you mentioned, if there was any stuff afoot shore up neon supplies, which is such a key ingredient for semiconductors, and a lot of it comes from Ukraine.
And also if there’ll be any discussion of, I guess, tightening up export controls on advanced semiconductor equipment to Chinese chipmakers like SMIC. Thank you so much.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hi, Alex. I’ll take the first part of that question and then open it up to others on the second.
Look, I think you’re going to see Russia as a focus across a number of areas of the TTC’s work. I mean, if we look at supply chains, we have been worried about China-related supply chains. We’re going to continue to be worried about China-related supply chains. But as your question suggests, we’re going to see us talk about the supply chain impacts from Russia and look for ways collectively to address them, probably particularly in global food issues, where we are quite concerned about a looming food security crisis in the back part of this year because of Putin’s war.
So I think you’ll see us look at Russia in the supply chain space; Russia, obviously, in the Russian disinformation kind of space. Obviously, Russia has implications for trade, but I don’t think we’re losing our focus. I think you just heard USTR talk about the ongoing work and the continuing ongoing work that we need to be doing together about China.
So I think this is very much a case of being able to walk and chew gum at the same time and address the impacts we’re seeing, the very serious impacts we’re seeing because of Russia’s war on Ukraine while also continuing the work we started last fall collectively on China.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can add a little bit on the on the last part of your question, which is, I think the TTC is certainly discussing all parts of the semiconductor supply chain through the working groups. And I think one of the reasons you’re hearing all of us talk about export controls, generally, is that I think there’s an agreement the foundation that we have built now with the Russia export controls is something that we can really build on. And it’s something as a basis for transatlantic cooperation more broadly. So I think you’ll see in the statement some reference to ways that we can consolidate that cooperation and that framework going forward.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. Does anyone else have any thoughts before we move to the next question?
All right. Can we do our next question, please?
Q Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for doing this call. I wonder if there’s specifically any plans to discuss China’s industrial subsidies with your counterparts in the European Union next week. I know that’s been a concern for many of the agencies on the call today, but Europeans have not been as apt to call out those industrial subsidies as unfair trade practices. Is that something that you plan to bring up next week?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We do have a set of outcomes, which will be part of the discussion about our coordination together to push back against the injurious effects of these non-market economy policies and practices, including in key priority sectors.
You mentioned subsidies but I think it’s fair to say that the non-market economy policies and practices go far beyond subsidies to include state-directed — government-directed state enterprises, force technology transfer, a broad range of industrial policies that really threatens some of the important emerging technologies that we are competitive in and should remain competitive.
And so, I think the importance of us working together to counter the bundle of non-market economy policies and practices — which includes subsidies, but not only — will, to my mind, clearly be a focus of the discussions and of the outcomes next week.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And if I can just add, I think, zooming out a bit, we really have seen incredible convergence in terms of just European understanding of the challenge that China poses from an economic perspective, but increasingly, as well, from a security perspective, given China’s support for Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, and the “no limits partnership” between Russia and the PRC.
And so this was a topic of conversation in the recent U.S.-EU high-level dialogue on China, which took place a few weeks ago in Brussels led by Deputy Secretary of State Sherman. And it’s an area of, I would say, continuing and increasing focus in our work with the EU, as we look to really ramp up cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. Any other thoughts before we move to the next question?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This is [senior administration official], just to say I totally agree. And I think it’s fair to say that several years ago you would never have seen the kind of convergence and outcomes that we’ll be seeing in this TTC coming up. There’s been a very significant convergence over the last few years. So this is very different from what one would have seen several years ago.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. Can we do our next question, please?
Q Hi, thank you. I was just wondering, you went over this a bit but if you could detail some of the efforts with relation to non-market economies. You talked about a trade dialogue on non-market challenges. Is that right? And an early alert mechanism for non-market challenges that disadvantage the U.S. economy. Can you give some more detail there? Thanks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, this is [senior administration official] again. Maybe I can give a few details. We each have and the European Union increasingly has their own measures of laws, regulations, actions to take to push back against various non-market economy policies and practices. So one of the things we’re doing in the TTC is a plan to work closely together so that we can leverage the instruments on both sides so that we can push back on those non-market economy policies and practices.
We also intend to identify particular practices and particular sectors that present challenges from a non-market economy point of view and develop joint strategies to push back on the injurious effects of the non-market economy policies and practices in those sectors.
And I think, very importantly, we’re also looking very much to make sure to avoid as much as possible, as we each take our own actions, which ideally will be advanced in cooperation with each other, that we don’t inadvertently hit each other and that we use those tools together and leverage them to push back against the particular non-market economy policies and practices that are undermining our competitiveness in key areas.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you. I want to be mindful of the time and just get a couple of more questions in. So can we please do our next question?
Q Hi, thanks so much for doing this. Can you guys just maybe talk about the timeline on the chip supply disruption and early warning system? And what we’re seeing now with the lockdowns in China, has that changed the conversation for that timeline? Thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks. This is an issue we’ve been working with the Europeans on over the last couple of months. As you know, we — last year, Commerce Department did a process to solicit information from U.S. semiconductor companies and companies consuming semiconductors on supply chain vulnerabilities.
And we had, actually, via our embassies last year, gotten a number of our embassies out in the Southeast Asia to set up for the U.S. side an early warning system where we were tracking key semiconductor-oriented production sites across Southeast Asia to understand as early as possible when disruptions would emerge. I think that early warning system that we established on a U.S. basis late last year, last fall — September, October — has been very helpful in helping us get ahead of a couple of potential shutdowns that would have hit earlier this year with Delta.
This is really a chance for us to expand that work and multilateralize it with our European partners. I would say we are very closely monitoring the situation in China, which is clearly impacting a number of different supply chains, not just semiconductors. We’ve seen a number of different products being hit from that.
I don’t know if you have anything you want to add to that.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, I would just say it’s been all along one of the highest priority initiatives for the Commerce Department, within TTC and outside of it, and something that comes up in bilateral engagements with any of the semiconductor producing countries. And so there’s different variations of this conversation with a lot of countries. It was very much high priority before any more recent concerns about shutdowns in China and so a great deal of urgency already.
We’re excited about what we’re going to announce on Monday in this regard. I think there’s a lot more work we can build on with our European counterparts on this.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great. Let’s do our last question, please.
Q Thanks so much for doing this. I was hoping you could talk a little bit about the principals who will be attending and how they’ll break up their roles. I see that Secretary of State Blinken is going; U.S. Trade Representative is going. Secretary Raimondo is going. How will they kind of break up their roles and responsibilities? And who from the White House specifically or the top-ranked White House official, who will that be? Who will be attending from the White House?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So, thanks. This is [senior administration official]. As you note, our principals are Ambassador Tai, Secretary Blinken, and Secretary Raimondo. They are co-leading this as they did in the fall.
I’m not going to get into exactly who’s going to say what at each of the different sessions, but the flow of the day — there’s a dinner Sunday evening, a working dinner Sunday evening for the principals. And then there are a set of sessions on Monday focused on different topics, including a session with stakeholders from both Europe and in the U.S. I think you’ll see very active participation by each of our principals across the different sessions, focusing, obviously, on the issues within each of their remits. Obviously, it’s also three principals who work very well together across a whole range of issues.
The White House does not attend this at a principal level, but there are a couple of White House staff who will be attending.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great. Any other thoughts before we wrap up the call on this question?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure, I would just add that I think this has been actually a really good exercise in terms of knitting together all of these equities and those of other departments and agencies that also participate.
So, within the State Department, we have half a dozen bureaus that are very active within the TTC’s 10 working groups. And beyond the three co-chairs, as I said, there are a number of different agencies that are also involved at the working group level.
And, I think it really just demonstrates the breadth of the U.S.-EU partnership and how cross-cutting these issues are that we’re dealing with, and that the TTC is really designed not just to deal with the trade and economic aspects, and the regulatory aspects of the digital side of things, but also to really bring in our shared values and the democratic and human rights aspects of the challenges that we face related to both trade and technology. So it really is pretty close to a whole-of-government effort.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great. All right. Well, thanks, everyone, for joining. As a reminder, this call was on background, attributable to “senior administration officials,” and the contents of this call are embargoed until Sunday 11:00 p.m. Eastern.
If you have any more questions, please feel (inaudible) to myself or the State Department, Commerce, and USTR. Thanks, everyone. Have a good day.