Secretary Antony J. Blinken and U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council Ministerial Co-Chairs at a Joint Press Availability

Secretary Antony J. Blinken and U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council Ministerial Co-Chairs at a Joint Press Availability

USA - USA DAILY NEWS 24 originally published at USA - USA DAILY NEWS 24

MODERATOR:  So we don’t have much time.  We’ll jump directly into the questions, so who wants to start?  Yes, please, go ahead, Johan.

QUESTION:  Thank you.  I’d like to start off with asking each one of you to make a brief statement about the outcome of this meeting.  And Mr. Secretary Blinken, could I have your comment on whether you find it troublesome that European Union and the U.S. have slightly different approaches in terms of trading with China?  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, happy to start.  Briefly, also picking up on that, first, this is now the fourth meeting of the Trade and Technology Council between the United States and the European Union.  I think we’ve demonstrated throughout that we are focused on and actually making progress on addressing the most urgent challenges that our countries face, and doing it in a very collaborative and productive way.  We’ve been focused on building sustainable, resilient, diversified supply chains, something we know, after COVID, is particularly critical.  We’re working on collaborating – on making sure that critical minerals, which will be powering our economies going forward, are readily available and that we’re collaborating on sharing information and working together to invest in them.

We have remarkable convergence, actually, when it comes to our approach on the major challenges we face, whether it’s dealing with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, including some of the export controls that we’ve collaborated on, including dealing with some of the challenges posed by China.  And again, from our conversations and discussions, the word that comes to mind most is convergence.  Together we’ve been working on things like investment screening mechanisms, on coordinating, on export controls, on working, as I said, on diversifying supply chains, on dealing with some of nonmarket practices that we see.

But we start from exactly the same approach, which is that none of us are looking for confrontation, none of us are looking for a Cold War, and none of us are looking for decoupling.  On the contrary, we all benefit from trade and investment with China.  But, as opposed to decoupling, we are focused on de-risking.  And you’ve heard the same language coming from leaders on both sides of the Atlantic – that is, being very clear-eyed about some of the challenges the relationship poses.  And the TTC, in a very practical way, is focused on addressing them, and I think you’ll see that in the conclusions of this meeting as well as the work that we’re doing.

Finally, I would say, and I’ll let my colleagues address this as well, we’re intensely focused on what we can do together to address both the opportunities and challenges posed by emerging technology.  We had a very intensive and, I think, productive discussion on artificial intelligence today, including generative AI.  I think we share a conviction that the TTC has an important role to play in helping establish voluntary codes of conduct that would be open to all likeminded countries, particularly because there’s almost always a gap when new technologies emerge between the time at which those technologies emerge and have an impact on people and the time it takes for governments and institutions to figure out how to legislate or regulate about them.

And we feel the fierce urgency of now, particularly when it comes to generative AI.  And so – and I’ll let my colleagues address this as well – one of the things we focused our conversation on today is how we can use the TTC to help advance, at least in the near term, voluntary codes of conduct that need to be open to a wide universe of countries so that we can mitigate some of the potential downsides and amplify the upsides of this extraordinary technology.

MS VESTAGER:  Maybe just to start off with a question of trades, in the European Union we’re in the process of establishing an economic security strategy.  The commission will table our approach mid-June for the European Council to discuss.  And I think we see very much eye to eye on a number of these issues.  For instance, when it comes to coercion, we have the anti-coercion instrument.  This, of course, is part of the strategy, as well as export controls, so that we can, indeed, identify risks, deal with them, and then trade for the rest of it.

Important results: protecting children, minors, online – really important that we know that they are safe, but also that they are empowered.  And I think we got a very good balance, because of course kids will be online, but they should be safe from harm.  They should be safe from targeted advertising, and here we made a lot of progress.

On enabling researchers to get the necessary data to follow what is ongoing, we think that we can have the specifics already by Christmastime now we have the agreement in principle.

And as of now, we need accountable artificial intelligence.  Generative AI is a complete gamechanger.  Of course we have had AI now for a very long time.  It is used in many, many places.  But generative AI is something new.  You have had it at your fingertips.  You’ve seen colleagues using it for writing their articles.  You have seen other colleagues using it for their research.  Everyone knows that this is a powerful thing.

So within the next weeks we will advance a draft of an AI code of conduct, of course, also taking industry input, taking input from independents, and then, of course, invite colleagues to sign up for the drafting in order to have very, very soon a final proposal for a code of conduct for industry to commit to voluntarily.  Because we have different legislative procedures, it will take two, three years at best before that would come into effect, and we’re talking about a technological acceleration that is beyond belief.  And here we think it’s really important that citizens can see that democracies can deliver – of course, in legislation, but also in bridging the now and the legislative impact, and to do that in the broadest possible circle with our friends in Canada, in the UK, in Japan, in India, bringing as many on board as possible.

SECRETARY RAIMONDO:  The only thing that I would add, very briefly and in answer to your question about China, is to pick up on Secretary Blinken’s comment of convergence.  And the reason there’s convergence is because our interests are aligned.  Of course, the EU and the member-states will have to make their own decisions, as will the United States, as to what’s in their best interest.  But spending two days talking to our colleagues here, our interests are aligned as it relates to China, as it relates to having safeguards around AI, as it relates to promoting responsible innovation.

And so I thought this was a very productive couple of days, one of the most – it’s our fourth.  Not surprisingly, as we all get to know each other a little bit better, develop even more trust, I think it’s been among the most productive and some of the richest discussions.  And I have no doubt that what will follow from this meeting will be some really concrete outcomes around responsible safeguards for artificial intelligence, better coordination around semiconductors and our semiconductor strategy, and just general convergence as we realize our interests are aligned and we continue to work together.

MR DOMBROVSKIS:  Well, on the trade side, I would emphasize our discussions on transatlantic initiatives on sustainable trade.  And the concrete deliverable in this TTC is that we have agreed on a concrete work program to focus on and to really generally work towards this green transatlantic marketplace.

We just finished our stakeholders event, and it must be said that this message was coming also very clearly from the stakeholders, that they are expecting us to work together on the green transition.  And we also agreed to instill new energy in our work on trade-facilitating measures, to look how we can advance in areas like conformity assessment, use of these tools for trade facilitation, and other steps in this area.

Then we had extensive discussions on economic security.  Secretary Blinken already mentioned our work on export controls, where our cooperation in TTC helped quite a bit, including to be able to quickly move on our export controls against Russia in context of its aggression against Ukraine.  But it’s a broader question.  We were also discussing economic coercion concerns coming from nonmarket economies and practices because we share many of those concerns.  So obviously we need to discuss and coordinate our approaches, because then we are more efficient in our response.  Thank you.

AMBASSADOR TAI:  And finally, I don’t think I know you, so I suspect you’re not a trade reporter.  The only reason why I suspect you’re not a trade reporter is because the way you put your question, I think, reveals that if you cover trade you will know that the U.S. and the EU have slightly – and more than slightly – different approaches to trade just across the board.  And that is just an aspect of who we are, and it’s always been true.

But that hasn’t gotten in the way of our being powerfully influential partners in building the post-World War II economic world order.  And at this point in time as well, this inflection point that President Biden identifies, it is not going to stop us.  In fact, we will continue to build on that partnership to drive a new world economic order that drives a race to the top, that really takes our shared vision and values for the kind of world that we want our workers, our people, our children, our businesses to be able to thrive in.  And I think that the TTC is a perfect manifestation of that vision at work.

MS VESTAGER:  Can I – just I’m – because this is – we’re all looking for proof of concept of the TTC.  And the charger is proof of concept, because we now have a common standard for the mega-charging.  So heavy-duty electrical vehicles – now we have the charging standards ready for infrastructure rollout here in Europe, over in the U.S.  And it’s very tangible, and we’ve been addressing the question of standards from the very first TTC, and now you see that it’s really working.

And one of the reasons why it’s really working is that we have the stakeholder community to support us, to challenge us, to ask us to be relevant for them and for their business on both sides of the Atlantic, and for the NGO community for the social partners, actually, to give us the necessary input.  And I think that has been very, very true at this TTC as well.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  That was a long question, so we don’t have much time left.  If you allow, one last question.  Yes, okay.  Missy, please.

QUESTION:  Missy Ryan, Washington Post.  Secretary Blinken, I’d like to ask you a question about U.S.-China relations.  And Secretary Raimondo and Ambassador Tai, if you want to add anything from where you sit, too, that would be great.  But Secretary Blinken, the Pentagon issued a statement yesterday about what it said was a dangerous interaction between a U.S. jet and Chinese military plane, the second in six months.  China has also lashed out at the United States over reports that it had rebuffed requests for meetings with Secretary Austin.  And there have been a series of mutual accusations regarding commercial and trade practices in the last week.

How do you see all of this in the context of the Biden administration’s hope for getting the bilateral relationship back in a better place, potentially rescheduling your visit?  And more generally, how do you do the cooperate piece of your compete, cooperate, contest strategy when these things keep happening?  Thanks.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks, Missy.  First, with regard to the planes, our planes were flying in international airspace on a routine mission.  The Chinese pilot took dangerous action in approaching the plane very, very closely.  There have been a series of these actions directed not just at us but at other countries in recent months.

But I think it only underscores why it is so important that we have regular, open lines of communication, including – by the way – between our defense ministers.  It’s regrettable that the meeting that Secretary Austin sought did not go forward with his Chinese counterpart.  But for us, for President Biden, this underscores why it’s so important that across the government, at the most senior levels, we are regularly engaged.  And that’s exactly what President Biden sought to do when he met with President Xi Jinping in Bali last year and what they agreed to do and what we hope that we can back to, because it’s clearly in the interest of both countries.

The most dangerous thing is not to communicate and, as a result, to have a misunderstanding, a miscommunication.  And as we’ve said repeatedly, while we have a real competition with China, we also want to make sure that doesn’t veer into conflict.  And the most important starting point for that are regular lines of communication.  It’s also, by the way, what I think the world is looking for us to do.

What I hear around the world is countries looking to the United States, Europe, China to manage the relationship that we have responsibly, and we very much seek to do that.  We hope our Chinese counterparts will want to do the same so that, at the very least, we can avoid any unnecessary problems and, yes, hopefully build areas of cooperation where it’s in our mutual interest – and where there’s a demand signal as well from the world – that we work together.  Some of the things that we’ve talked about through the TTC would require, as well, cooperation and collaboration with China as well as with other major countries.  We look to do that, and we hope we’ll be able to proceed.

SECRETARY RAIMONDO:  I would just add to that point of opening a dialogue.  I had a productive meeting Thursday of last week in person with Minister Wang, the commerce secretary, who came to D.C.  And it was a candid, direct, productive exchange where we tackled head on some of our issues related to economic coercion and other irritants, but also where we agreed to keep the channel of communication open in the hope that increased dialogue would lead to de-escalation of tension and an ability to solve problems.

AMBASSADOR TAI:  And I’d like to recenter the conversation here at the TTC on the U.S. and EU relationship, speaking of channels of communication and how important it is to a vibrant bilateral relationship.  Valdis and I committed to each other at the beginning of this year that, to keep the global steel and aluminum arrangement negotiations on track, that we would meet every month this year to ensure that our teams are on track to produce.  And we’ve kept that promise.  And in fact, I just wanted to preview for you, Valdis and I are not just seeing each other this week here in Sweden.  We will be seeing each other next week as well in person.  And I just want to underscore the ambition that underlies this relationship across all the areas that you see represented by the different principals on the stage right now.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  Unfortunately, we have to conclude because there is no time left.  Thank you everybody for being here, and thank you to the principals for a very successful meeting today.  (Applause.)

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USA - USA DAILY NEWS 24 originally published at USA - USA DAILY NEWS 24