EU trade chief to press on with US battery minerals talks despite differences

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. and European Union failed on Tuesday to reach a trade deal for critical battery minerals but are vowing to press ahead with talks to create a transtlantic marketplace for minerals and other components, the EU’s top trade official said on Tuesday.

European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters after bilateral talks in Washington that there remain some “outstanding issues” on the European side, including aspects of the U.S. green energy subsidy law known as the Inflation Reduction Act that the EU sees as discriminatory.

The battery minerals trade agreement, which would allow European companies to take advantage of generous U.S. tax credits for electric vehicles, was a key topic of discussion at the fifth ministerial meeting of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council.

“I will not now give specific targets or deadlines on this,” Dombrovskis but in this case, we think it fits in our broader agenda of both resilient supply chains and greening of the economy because many of those critical minerals are important for the green transitions of our economies.”

Dombrovskis added that despite differences, “we are willing to continue this engagement and eventually a comprehensive agreement.”

There was no joint statement issued at the end of the TTC meeting, a forum launched in 2021 to foster cooperation on strengthening semiconductor supply chains, curbing China’s “non-market” trade practices and coordinate regulation of big tech firms.

The two sides agreed to hold a sixth ministerial meeting in April in Belgium, expected to be the last before EU and U.S. national elections this year.

The U.S. and EU agreed to launch the battery minerals talks in March 2023 amid concerns that the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides tax credits for U.S. clean energy investments, would divert projects away from Europe.

The U.S. swiftly struck a minerals agreement with Japan last March.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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