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Trade tensions overshadowed Macron’s visit to the White House

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Washington (AFP) – French President Emmanuel Macron is set to arrive in Washington, Tuesday, for a rare state visit hosted by Joe Biden, but bitter differences over trade between the United States and the European Union will play out in ceremony and pomp at the White House.

Due to Covid delays, this was Biden’s first official visit to the presidency and France’s choice of honor reflects deep historical ties and their current intense partnership to confront Russia in its war in Ukraine, US officials said.

Biden will welcome Macron with a full state military reception, a grand visit to Arlington National Cemetery, a seat in the Oval Office, a private dinner with their wives on Wednesday, and a state dinner on Thursday where Grammy-winning American musician John Bautista will perform. .

Compared to Macron’s first experience as Donald Trump’s guest in 2018, the trip – which ends Friday in the former French city of New Orleans – will be a carefully choreographed show of friendship across the Atlantic.

The diplomatic furor that erupted last year when Australia scrapped a deal for French submarines and instead signed up for American nuclear submarines has certainly been buried.

French and American flags decorate the Eisenhower Executive Office building adjacent to the White House on the occasion of the state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron. Ludovic Marinaff

But even if there are few chances of Trump-style fireworks, Macron has major flaws in the air.

Trade war?

Chief among them is the tension over Biden’s green industries policy, the Reduction Inflation Act, or IRA, which will pump billions of dollars into climate-friendly technologies, as well as aggressive subsidies for American products.

Europeans fear the unfair advantage of the United States in the fast-growing sector, just as they fear the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine and Western efforts to end dependence on energy supplies for the Russians.

There is now growing talk in Europe about whether the bloc should respond with its own subsidies to domestic products, triggering a trade war.

“China subsidizes its own products, and America subsidizes its own products. Perhaps it is time for Europe to subsidize its own products,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 3 Radio on Sunday.

Europeans fear that US subsidies for electric cars will distort competition Jeff Kowalski

Martin Gaines, deputy director of the Paris office of the GMF think tank, will tell Macron Biden: “There is a contradiction between an administration that keeps talking about alliances. At the same time, a decision like the IRA affects allies of ‘economies’.

Another problem in Europe is the high cost of US LNG exports – try to replace canceled Russian supplies.

A senior US administration official has responded to allegations that the US is indeed profiting from the war in Ukraine, calling it a “false assertion”.

The official played down tensions over the IRA, saying there were “very constructive conversations” about how to prevent European businesses from closing.

Emphasizing the importance of the Paris issue, Macron met dozens of business leaders before leaving for Washington to demand continued investment in France. Among them were representatives of the American corporations Goldman Sachs and McDonald’s.

China’s strategy towards Ukraine

The size of Macron’s entourage – including the foreign, defense and finance ministers, business leaders and astronauts – demonstrates the significance of the visit to Paris.

But a senior White House official said the main goal was to strengthen a “personal relationship and an alliance relationship” between France, Biden and Macron.

Helping Ukraine fend off Russia includes better integration and the more difficult question of how to deal with the rise of a Chinese superpower.

Although France and the United States are NATO allies, they sometimes clash over security issues
Although France and the United States are NATO allies, they sometimes clash over security issues Wojdec Radwanski AFP/File

“We are not on the same page,” a Macron adviser told AFP, expecting “difficult” talks with Biden.

Despite strong support in Kyiv, Macron’s insistence on continuing dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin has angered US diplomats.

The China issue – with Washington adopting a more accommodating tone and European powers trying to find common ground – is unlikely to see much progress.

“Europe has had its own unique strategy in its relations with China since 2018,” Pascal Confavro, a spokesman for the French Embassy in Washington, tweeted.

Even if their approach is “mismatched,” a senior US official said, they should at least “speak from a common script.”

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