Biden signs tariff deal with EU, underscoring solidarity ahead of Putin meeting

President Biden, nearing the end of a foreign trip aimed at restoring strong relations with United States allies, on Tuesday announced an agreement with the European Union to end a 17-year dispute over aircraft subsidies. The announcement appeared to give the president yet another “victory” a day before his much-anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And it set the stage for his meeting with European Council leaders here, the last of his conversations with dozens of allies for six days before he traveled to Geneva to sit with Putin on Wednesday.

This high-stakes face-to-face with Putin will be Biden’s first with an antagonistic leader since taking office, and it comes about three years after Putin met President Trump in Helsinki. Unlike Trump, who publicly backed Putin’s denial of Russian interference in the 2016 US election over the findings of US intelligence officials, Biden is eager to issue a stern warning to the Russian leader – although it is happening in private, the two men being ready to meet. press separately after meetings that could last up to five hours, according to the White House.

“I will make it clear to President Putin that there are areas in which we can cooperate, if he wishes,” Biden said at a press conference Monday after a day of meetings with NATO allies. “And if he chooses not to cooperate and acts like he has in the past, with respect to cybersecurity and some other business, then we will respond. We will respond in kind.

Biden has also sought to defuse tensions somewhat, declining to say that he still thinks Putin is “a killer” as he has said in previous interviews, describing him instead as a “worthy adversary”.

White House officials scheduled the trip for Biden to come to the meeting with the Russian leader “behind his back” after nearly a week of conversations with allies at the G-7 summit in England and the United States. ‘NATO. Tuesday’s deal on aircraft subsidies for Boeing and Airbus, as well as EU meetings, were set to achieve that goal.

The bulk of conversations with allies over the past week have focused on new joint ventures from democratic nations to address global challenges such as climate change, the coronavirus and cybercrime – as well as to counter economic influence and China’s growing military and other autocracies.

“America is back on the world stage,” said Charles Michel, President of the European Council, during a brief exchange with reporters. “This is great news for the Allies, but also great news for the world.”

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, has been adamant about the damage done to the transatlantic alliance. “The past four years have not been easy,” she said. “The world has changed dramatically. Europe has changed. But we wanted to reassure you: we are friends and allies, and we can’t wait to work together.

The two sides agreed to suspend punitive tariffs at the center of the long-running dispute after two days of negotiations here between Katherine Tai, the US trade representative, and Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU trade commissioner.

Tai, who briefed reporters on Tuesday morning, said the agreements would suspend tariffs for another five years while the two sides work together to counter Chinese investments in the aviation sector. But, according to Tai, the deal limits the subsidies the EU can give to Airbus and allows the US to re-impose billions of dollars in tariffs if the EU crosses “the red line.”

“These tariffs will remain suspended, as long as EU support for Airbus is in line with the terms of this deal,” she said, adding that if not, and if “US producers are not able to compete fairly and on an equal footing, the United States retains the option of reactivating the suspended tariffs.

Tariffs between the United States and Europe have intensified under the Trump administration, given the former president’s eagerness to crack down on countries he says were profiting from Washington’s overly generous trade policies. Tuesday’s deal did not address other duties imposed by the Trump administration on EU steel and aluminum, nor the increase in retaliation on US exports, including jeans, motorcycles and peanut butter.

Charles Kupchan, a senior research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who worked on European affairs at the National Security Council under former President Obama, said the tariff deal further underscored renewed transatlantic solidarity and would strengthen Biden’s hand before the Wednesday’s summit with the Russian president. .

“Putin was just sitting and smiling during the Trump era,” Kupchan said, “looking at the internal divisions within the United States, the divisions within Europe, the divisions between Europe and the United States”.

Yet Julia Friedlander, a senior member of the Atlantic Council who worked on European affairs in the National Security Council under former President Trump, warned that the five-year agreement offered no permanent solution to the old dispute. nearly two decades. She described it as a “symbolic great moment” cut out under significant political pressure, but agreed it was noteworthy ahead of Biden’s meeting with Putin.

The deal continues to suspend significant punitive tariffs estimated at $ 11.5 billion on a wide range of products, including wine, tractors, spirits, molasses and cheese. Both sides agreed to the suspension in March as they tried to settle the dispute.

Trump imposed tariffs on industries that had nothing to do with aircraft production – French wine growers and German bakers in Europe as well as spirits producers in the United States.

In March, shortly after Biden took office, the US and EU agreed to a temporary four-month truce. The new agreement will come into effect in July.

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