US demands are why mineral deal with EU failed, Dombrovskis says

EU Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis

EU Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis

30th October 2023

By: Bloomberg


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The US and European Union were unable to reach an agreement recently on critical minerals because the US made extra requests beyond those in a deal that Japan and Washington signed earlier this year, according to EU Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis.

The agreement with the US “would have been concluded by now” if it was based on the template of the Japan-US deal signed in March, Dombrovskis told reporters in Osaka on Saturday. The difficulty was that “the US is coming with more far-reaching requests vis-a-vis the EU than it did vis-a-vis Japan,” he said on the sidelines of the Group of Seven trade ministers meeting.

The critical minerals agreement was one of two deals that didn’t get agreed last week ahead of the US-EU summit, along with an accord on steel and aluminum. The question of securing reliable access to critical minerals has rapidly risen in importance, especially with recent Chinese moves to control and restrict exports of gallium, germanium and graphite, all of which are used in high-tech goods such as semiconductors or batteries.

The EU will continue to monitor these Chinese export controls “closely” and discussed them with the Japanese, according to Dombrovskis, who was speaking after a meeting with Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura. Also discussed was the EU’s proposal for a “critical minerals club” which would ensure “sustained access to critical minerals for greening and digitalisation of our economies” and ”support resource-rich countries also in developing certain processing capacities and having more value added from the natural resources” they possess, he said.

Although the Europeans weren’t able to seal the minerals deal with the US last week, they were able to sign an agreement to develop a corridor to connect resource-rich Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia with the Atlantic Ocean through Angola as the allies compete with China to access critical minerals.

As well as participating in the G-7 meeting, Dombrovskis will lead the EU’s delegation in the last-ditch attempt to finish a free-trade agreement with Australia.

“I would say the deal is within reach but for this we need to also get through the remaining hurdles and this week will show whether we will be able to do so,” Dombrovskis said. “For the EU it’s substance over speed so we will be able to conclude the negotiations once the substance is right.”

Edited by Bloomberg


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