US remains optimistic for critical minerals agreement with EU

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The United States is optimistic as it will conclude an agreement with the European Union to allow critical minerals mined or processed in Europe to qualify for US clean vehicle tax breaks, a senior US official said on Monday.

The transatlantic partners are negotiating whether and how EU critical minerals, such as lithium and nickel, can qualify for green subsidies under the US Inflation Reduction Act, which promotes products manufactured in North America.

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Jose Fernandez, undersecretary for economic growth, energy, and the environment at the State Department, told a briefing in Brussels that both sides were in intense negotiations.

“I’m hopeful, optimistic. Negotiations are good. We realize that we need to work together, and I am confident that we will have an agreement,” he said.

He added there was no plan to tie an agreement on critical minerals to the result of separate transatlantic negotiations to resolve a bilateral dispute over US import tariffs on EU steel.

The United States signed minerals deal with Japan in March. Now, both the EU and Britain are looking for the same.

Fernandez also said he was meeting EU officials to discuss an agenda for the next joint Trade and Technology Council, which the United States will host before the end of the year.

He said both sides aimed to work on establishing safeguards for artificial intelligence, which they agree should support democratic values, human rights and individual freedoms.

“I think there’s a desire to get beyond those kinds of general statements and to have more concrete,” he said, adding there was no specific timetable to reach an agreement, but a sense this need to occur sooner rather than later.

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