The United States and European Union need to produce more results on trade through the bilateral Trade and Technology Council, European Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis told an audience in Washington.
In particular, the global focus on dealing with climate change presents the opportunity to create “a green transatlantic marketplace,” he told a program sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute.
The EU and United States should coordinate their climate policies in order to set standards for green products and avoid trade barriers, he said.
The TTC has produced results in the technology sphere, including coordinated sanctions and export controls on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
“But we need to deliver more on the trade side. I want to see clear trade deliverables,” he stated. The EU official said he hopes to see movement on trade at the next TTC meeting at the end of May in Sweden.
As part of the green transition, Brussels and Washington are working on a targeted critical minerals agreement. Reaching the agreement is essential to ensuring the EU is treated fairly under the US Inflation Reduction Act’s subsidies for electric vehicles.
The US critical minerals agreement with Japan has created a useful precedent to build on, according to Mr. Dombrovskis. He will be discussing the critical minerals agreement today with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
The EU’s carbon border adjustment mechanism is non-discriminatory and compliant with the World Trade Organization rules, but subsidies are not, he said.
The WTO and trade are essential to getting to net zero, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said at a program sponsored by the Washington International Trade Association last week.
The WTO can provide a forum for strategic cooperation on climate change, she said. The. agreement on fisheries subsidies reached last year at the 12th ministerial conference demonstrated that WTO members “can reach agreements for the global commons.”
“Trade is a force for the rapid climate action that we need and nothing in the WTO rules prevents members from taking climate action,” she stated.
Speaking at the same program, Deputy Director General Angela Ellard pointed out that the WTO has a full agenda of environmental issues, including fisheries subsidies, plastics pollution, fuel subsidies and structural sustainability.
She expressed hope that members might return to negotiations on an environmental goods agreement. Ms. Ellard, who previously was chief trade counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee, said there is increasing Congressional support for an EGA. WTO members, however, have not come to a decision on whether to resurrect the negotiations.
Assistant US Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources Kelly Milton said the WTO already has a full plate and should deal with the issues already on its agenda before turning to any new negotiations.
She suggested the WTO can be a platform for members to share and possibly coordinate their climate actions and to make sure that unintentional trade restraints are not being imposed.
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