French Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire called on the United States to put an end “definitively” to trade rivalries with Europe, stressing that a “strong” France and a “strong” Europe are in the interests of States United, during an interview with AFP Thursday in Washington.
Mr. Le Maire was to meet there Thursday officials of the White House on the sidelines of the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank which are taking place this week in the American capital.
“There has been progress” in trade negotiations but “there are still hard points,” said the French minister, referring to the thorny dispute over customs duties on European steel and aluminum.
This dispute, which plagues transatlantic relations, began when Donald Trump’s administration in June 2018 imposed punitive tariffs of 25% on European steel and 10% on European aluminum in the name of safety. United States National.
The two parties have until December 1 to settle this matter.
But the administration of Joe Biden has not yet decided on the lifting of these customs tariffs, which irritates Brussels.
“My message to the US administration on these trade issues is very clear: let’s get rid of these areas of tension between the US and Europe as quickly as possible,” he said.
Mr. Le Maire suggests giving oneself “a few months” to settle this dispute “definitively” and put an end to the risks of sanctions and trade war, which must belong “to a bygone era”.
These conflicts are “unnecessary”, “counterproductive”, “and they prevent us from working on much more important subjects which are, for example, the difficulties of supplying raw materials, the difficulties of supplying semiconductors. , the creation of new technological sectors “, argues the French minister.
The IMF, the World Bank and the G20 and G7 finances have collectively tackled the problem of supply chain bottlenecks which are creating shortages in many countries and threatening global growth.
“We want us, Europeans, us, French (…) to gain our independence on semiconductors, on hydrogen, on space, on artificial intelligence, on data storage, on the protection of our data “, explained the minister.
– “Reliable and attractive partner”
No more nation can accept that its auto factories run at 50% of their capacity because they do not have semiconductors that come exclusively from Taiwan, South Korea or elsewhere, he argued. .
According to him, this strategy of investment and independence should not however be perceived as a threat by the United States.
“A Europe which is more independent, which has its own technologies, its own value chains, that is not against the United States, it is good for the United States,” he said.
Regarding France, it is “a reliable, attractive and powerful partner in Europe”, he continued, noting that French growth will be one of the strongest in the euro zone and that the country has become “the most attractive in Europe for foreign investments”.
Unfortunately, the message “is not always understood in Washington”, he regretted.
On China, which “is in all discussions” in Washington, Mr. Le Maire advocates a pragmatic approach.
The American strategy is “to oppose” the rise to power of China when the Europeans want to “engage” China to make it evolve on questions of intellectual property, access to markets, respect for human rights. man, he described.
“I think the only good solution is to exchange as much as possible with our American partners, to look subject by subject what approach we are taking, and to continue to cooperate, to discuss this strategic subject for the 21st century: the rise of China, ”he concludes.
© 2021 AFP