Borderlex spoke to Susan Danger, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union, on what EU-United States trade relations might look like under president-elect Joe Biden’s future administration.
“This new term is an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and transatlantic leadership,” said Susan Danger.
“One area we would like to work together on is the reform of the World Trade Organization,” said the trade association’s leader, who represents over 160 US firms invested in the EU.
The issue has been around for a long time, even before the Trump administration, and the EU and US both agree that the world trade body needs to be modernised.
Danger sees three priority areas for WTO reform: “Look at the plurilateral way forward (…), encourage more plurilateral talks so that you can get agreement in smaller groups first.”
“Another area is the monitoring role of the WTO secretariat.” WTO members could improve the way notifications are submitted, for instance. “The third area is the Dispute Settlement Body and moving forward on the Appellate Body.”
Inclusive on China
The EU and the US recently launched a dialogue on China. “The US has wanted to work with the EU for a number of years on a common approach—so we do encourage that.”
“But we would also encourage them to have China at the table to not do this in isolation. We need to be careful of knock-on effects from a unilateral approach.”
The EU and the US need to talk about digital issues, too, be it data protection, data flows or artificial intelligence.
“Barriers need to be overcome for businesses on either side, but at the same time, data needs to be protected. These are all common issues: no-one wants digital protectionism on either side of the Atlantic. It’s all about finding the balance between competitiveness, innovation and security of citizens’ data.”
On the EU side, data protection is “a fundamental right for citizens.” But “we’re seeing now a move on the US side as well where data protection is also demanded,” said Danger.
On artificial intelligence, “both sides agree that we need to build trust, and we can play a role together by promoting a human-centric approach.”
“We share so many views across the Atlantic, like transparency to citizens and consumers, that it’s a really obvious area for us to work on,” Danger said.
“We would push that forward, maybe first as intensified transatlantic cooperation. However, as this is a global issue, it shouldn’t just be limited to the EU and US. We can lead, but at some point, we need to bring others to the table as well.”
The EU and member states might proceed with digital taxation plans as negotiations at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development falter. The United States’ Section 301 investigations into these taxation plans, which could potentially lead to more punitive tariffs on EU exports, are still pending.
“We call for an international approach. I still hope that the OECD will come up with a proposal that can be accepted.”
“We would not be generally supportive of the EU and member-states taking unilateral measures to tax digital companies because it fragments the market and makes it very difficult for businesses,” said Danger.
“Ultimately, this always has an impact on the consumer because it’s going to impact pricing. So an international approach is the best way forward.”
“The EU wants to be the first continent to be climate-neutral, and we support that—somebody has to lead the way,” reckons Susan Danger.
“US companies in the EU have always supported the Paris Agreement by investing in and developing a wide range of carbon-reducing technologies. We’ve always advocated for a predictable and stable framework for investments.”