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Le Maire: Europe must stand firm against US aid to industry

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French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has called on the European Union to stand together against the United States, saying Washington is subsidising its companies under recent legislation that offers big tax breaks for buyers of U.S.-made electric vehicles.

In an interview with four European media, including French business outlet “Les Echos,” Le Maire reiterated complaints about U.S. trade policies, saying that “our industry is already suffering from a competitiveness deficit linked to the differences in energy prices between the United States and Europe.” Chinese competition, as well as the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, are likely to widen this gap, Le Maire added.

He then called for a “coordinated, united and strong response by the European Union vis-à-vis our American allies,” adding: “Only firmness will allow us to achieve results.”

Le Maire did not rule out filing a complaint at the World Trade Organization against the U.S. when asked about it. He said that “Europe must defend its interests” as it cannot expect any gifts from China or the U.S. itself.

The transatlantic spat has flared following the passage in August of the Inflation Reduction Act, a huge U.S. tax, climate and health care package which some European leaders say is protectionist.

Asked whether France will also block aid to electric cars not manufactured on its territory if nothing is decided on the European level, Le Maire said: “We are not ruling anything out.”

The issue is expected to overshadow the next Trade and Technology Council, which takes place between U.S. and European negotiators in early December. 

In the interview, Le Maire was also asked about the Franco-German relationship, which has been cool in recent months. He said: “One thing is certain: the political will to work together is intact.”

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