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US, EU in spat over law

 

BRUSSELS — The European Union and the United States are treading precariously close to a major trans-Atlantic trade dispute at a time when the two Western giants want to show unity in the face of challenges from Russia and China.

EU trade ministers on Friday insisted they would be forced to respond if Washington sticks to all the terms of its Inflation Reduction Act, which is favorable to U.S. companies through subsidies that the EU says unfairly discriminate against European firms that want to compete for contracts

"Nobody wants to get into a titfor-tat or subsidy race. But what the U.S. has done really isn't consistent with the principles of free trade and fair competition," Irish Trade Minister Leo Varadkar said.

Even though the allies stood shoulder to shoulder by imposing strict sanctions against Russia since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, they cannot gloss over the trade differences.

"What we are asking for is fairness. We want and expect European companies and exports to be treated in the same way in the U.S. as American companies and exports are treated in Europe," EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said.

"All the member states are concerned," said Czech Trade Minister Jozef Sikela, who chaired the emergency meeting.

The Czech minister said the EU still hopes divergences can be solved during a Dec. 5 meeting of the task force that the U.S. and EU have set up, with the possibility that the bloc would be treated like Canada and Mexico and be exempted from subsidy conditions.

Trade disputes have been a red line for decades, highlighted by fights over aircraft subsidies and steel exports and affecting everything from hormone-treated beef to liquor exports.

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Published on 11/30/2022 (63 days ago) General