Biden and von der Leyen launch talks on critical minerals for electric vehicles amid trade frictions

WASHINGTON D.C. – On Friday, President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met at the White House to discuss the launch of talks on critical minerals used for electric vehicles. This comes amid trade frictions between the United States and the European Union.

The meeting was held against the backdrop of European complaints that clean energy subsidies in the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and others will divert investment away from Europe and hurt their economies. The war in Ukraine was also a major agenda item.

The Biden administration has sought to address European concerns while sticking to the core tenets of the law, which represented a major domestic political victory for Biden upon its passage.

In a joint statement after their meeting, the two said they intended to “immediately begin negotiations on a targeted critical minerals agreement” to ensure that minerals extracted or processed in the EU would count for clean vehicle tax credits under the IRA law.

“This kind of agreement would further our shared goals of boosting our mineral production and processing and expanding access to sources of critical minerals that are sustainable, trusted, and free of labor abuses,” they said in the statement.

The European Commission last month presented its Green Deal Industrial Plan in response to the US IRA law, with increased levels of state aid to help Europe compete as a manufacturing hub for clean tech products.

Jake Colvin, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, a corporate lobby group, urged the White House to raise US industry concerns on what he called a “discriminatory digital sovereignty agenda” aimed at undermining US companies.

During a December visit by France’s President Emmanuel Macron to the White House, Biden said that bills aimed at boosting US renewable energy and the semiconductor industry have “glitches” that can be addressed.

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