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Competition, chips, AI on table at first US-EU trade and tech meet

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The United States and the European Union hope to discuss chip shortages, artificial intelligence and tech competition issues during the first Trade and Tech Council meeting this week, senior US administration officials said on Monday.

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.

Earlier this month, the White House announced that the council would meet for the first time on Sept. 29 in Pittsburgh. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis are scheduled to attend along with European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager.

On Sunday, EU’s trade and digital chiefs said the council would give Europe more clout and set standards and rules for the 21st century.

“We as an administration believe in strong pro-competition regulation. … We do think as a piece of that we have opportunities to work together with the European Union,” an administration official said.

The administration officials said the United States is discussing with their European counterparts issues and recommendations they have around the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act – legislative proposals from the European Union that offer a framework for regulating the tech sector.

Tech trade groups such as the US-based Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) said a lot of attempts to regulate the tech sector has been focused on U.S. tech companies and a handful of European tech companies.

“So if the Europeans somehow can get the Americans to say some of the same things or convince them that what the Europeans are doing is the right approach, that would be a major win for the Europeans,” said Christian Borggreen, vice president and head of the Brussels office for CCIA.

The powerful US Chamber of Commerce said the TTC’s actions should “avoid policies and regulatory measures that target businesses headquartered in the other party — explicitly or implicitly — through law or regulation.”

Mitigating a severe chips shortage that has hurt companies including US automakers will be a priority for the panel, the officials said.

The development and implementation of artificial intelligence that enhances privacy protections will also be looked at and a joint study on how the technology affects global trade will be undertaken, they said.

A US administration official also said US-EU discussions on steel and aluminum tariffs are proceeding on a separate track from the Trade and Technology Council process, hopefully with guidance on the path forward by the end of the year. 

[Reuters]