U.S., EU to launch consultations on tech regulations, trade, China – Reuters

A security guard walks near EU and U.S. flags, before the EU-US summit, in Brussels, Belgium June 15, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

PITTSBURGH/WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) – U.S. and European Union trade and competition officials are set to launch a new forum on Wednesday joining forces to better compete with China, shield sensitive technologies, boost semiconductor output and coordinate regulation of large technology firms.

The new U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council will hold its first meeting in a former steel mill building in southeast Pittsburgh that has been repurposed as a research and development center for artificial intelligence, robotics and advanced manufacturing.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis are scheduled to attend along with European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager.

On Thursday, Reuters was first to report the actions the United States and the European Union are planning to announce from the first TTC meeting, such as taking a more unified approach to limit the growing market power of Big Tech.

With the U.S. and Europe trying to restrain the growing power of American tech giants such as Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O), Facebook (FB.O), Apple (AAPL.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), such cooperation has become critically important for regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. It also would make it harder for the U.S. tech industry to fight new rules.

The council has 10 working groups and will discuss areas such as chip shortages, artificial intelligence (AI) and tech competition issues.

Several tech trade groups in Washington said the industry does not want the European approach to digital regulation to be adopted in the United States.

“It is critical for U.S. negotiators to vigorously defend U.S. economic interests in the TTC,” the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation said in a statement. “They should not gloss over real differences in privacy rules, AI regulation, antitrust regulation, digital taxation, content moderation, and others.”

Dombrovskis, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, said the U.S. and EU share many goals for AI, such as curbing its use for surveillance and repression, but the TTC will help where the two sides differ.

“It provides us with a forum to discuss those issues, to see where we have common ground, where we have differences and how to address those differences,” he said.

But senior U.S. officials said the consultations are not expected to focus specifically on resolving a long-running dispute over U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, which U.S. officials said are proceeding on a separate track from the TTC. read more

Dombrovskis said the EU was ready to look at similar arrangements agreed by Canada and Mexico that lifted U.S. tariffs on their steel and aluminum exports to the United States in 2019, but added that a deal needed to be agreed by early November.

Raimondo, whose agency implemented the U.S. metals tariffs, has said a key focus for the meeting was discussing with European allies ways to restrain China’s non-market behavior, including the dumping of underpriced steel into U.S. and European markets.

Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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