‘Another Macron failure!’ Fury as Biden ignores French plea to halt crippling US sanctions

Joe Biden realises Europe is ‘indispensable partner’ says expert

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The French President suggested in a telephone conversation with his US counterpart Joe Biden on January 24 that the two countries settle the old dispute, CNBC reported. But on Friday, the Biden administration announced it will keep the additional tariffs on certain European products which entered into force on January 12, in the framework of the old dispute between Boeing and Airbus.

The US team said “it is not necessary at this stage to review” this trade sanction.

Blasting the French leader for his failure to convince the US President to backtrack, MEP Gilles Lebreton tweeted: “Another failure for Macron: Biden refused his request to lift US taxes on French wines and products.

“I do not remember a French President who has got so many slaps internationally!”

Since coming to the White House, President Biden has hinted that he will not change the additional tariffs that were put in place by the administration of his predecessor Donald Trump, but he expressed his desire to renew peaceful ties with his historic allies, including the countries of the European Union.

The customs duties concerned were announced at the end of 2020 and target French and German products: +25 percent on non-sparkling wines, grape must and cognacs, and +15 percent on certain aeronautical parts.

They had entered into force a few days before the end of Donald Trump’s mandate, during which the United States’ trade relations with the EU deeply deteriorated.

The US administration said: “The US trade representative will continue to review the measures taken during the investigation.”

The tariffs applied since January are in addition to those imposed since 2019 on European products (wine, cheese, olive oil, whiskey) and on Airbus planes.

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Airbus and its American competitor Boeing, and through them the EU and the United States, have been clashing since October 2004 before the World Trade Organization over public aid paid to the two groups, deemed illegal, in the longest commercial conflict handled by the justice of the peace of world trade.

The United States was authorised at the end of 2019 to impose taxes on nearly 7.5 billion dollars of European goods and services imported each year, the heaviest sanction ever imposed by the WTO. In a mirror decision a year later, the institution authorised the EU to impose taxes on products imported from the United States. The EU has since imposed tariffs on $4 billion in US exports.

On Monday, Peter Beyer, transatlantic coordinator for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, told Reutersthat Germany and the new US administration under President Biden should “think big” and aim for an ambitious agenda based on shared values and focused on joint interests.

Mr Beyer said: “After the difficult years under Donald Trump, Germany and Europe now have a historic chance to breathe new life into the transatlantic partnership and improve relations with the US.”

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President Biden will hold his first event with other leaders from the Group of Seven nations, including Merkel, in a virtual meeting on Friday to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the world economy and China relations.

German enthusiasm for a trade deal and stronger transatlantic ties may have to contend with a more cautious approach in France, where President Emmanuel Macron has made a priority of reducing European reliance on rival superpowers.

When asked about the transatlantic relationship and reviving the idea of a trade deal, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said: “We won’t wait for the United States to give Europe its sovereignty.

“It’s up to Europe to conquer it.”

Mr Beyer said while Germany and the United States would continue to have differences on issues like Russian gas imports, this should not stop them from liaising closely on economic, trade, tax and climate policies.

He said: “Now is the right time to put a package of trade and economic policy proposals on the agenda.

“This must include a comprehensive and ambitious free trade deal.

“It should include a common roadmap for a WTO (World Trade Organisation) reform that, among other things, finally gets China to play by international trade rules – violations of these rules must be sanctioned.”

As a first step towards rebuilding trust, Mr Beyer said, the new US administration should withdraw punitive tariffs unilaterally imposed by Trump on European imports of aluminium and steel.

Talks about an EU-US trade deal should start without preconditions from either side.

Mr Beyer added: “And we should also abandon the maxim that there can only be an agreement once we have agreed on all areas. Instead, we should go step by step.”

“The first step could be an agreement which would see the EU and US abolish all tariffs on industrial goods. Progress could be made quickly here.

“Controversial areas such as agriculture must then be discussed in a second step.”

Germany also views climate protection as another policy area with great potential to work more closely together with the US as both sides were now pulling in the same direction again, he said.

“Biden’s decision to reinstate the US to the Paris climate agreement (which Trump abandoned) sends an important signal.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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