France looks for changes to Biden's $369bn subsidies on eve of Macron visit

French president to visit Washington amid US-EU trade dispute

Joe Biden will receive Emmanuel Macron for the first state visit of the current US administration. Reuters
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France said on Sunday it may seek changes to a vast US spending package that pours money into rivals of European companies.

The $369bn package, signed by President Joe Biden, gives tax breaks to US renewables and electric vehicles, and favours American manufacturing.

Mr Biden’s green subsidies are disliked by EU policymakers who say Europe’s energy and auto industries will be at an unfair disadvantage.

French President Emmanuel Macron is due to make a state visit to Washington this week, including a state dinner with Mr Biden on Thursday.

He will be the first leader honoured by Mr Biden’s administration, giving him the rare distinction of making two state visits after he was hosted by Donald Trump in 2018.

But despite the US alliance with Europe over Ukraine, their trade relations are in trickier waters after Mr Biden’s domestic moves.

“France may ask for exemptions on some duties and limits imposed by the US administration,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Sunday.

He told France 3 television: “China favours Chinese production, America favours American production, it is time Europe favours European production.

“All European states must understand that today in the face of these American decisions, we must learn to better protect and defend our economic interests.”

Mr Biden's spending package gives subsidies to the wind, solar, nuclear and hydrogen industries. AP

The US has agreed to discuss the EU’s concerns in a joint task force on what is known as the Inflation Reduction Act.

After a meeting of EU trade ministers on Friday, the bloc’s trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said the US and Europe should work together on clean energy.

“We want and expect European companies and exports to be treated in the same way in the US as American companies and exports are treated in Europe,” he said.

Germany, meanwhile, praised the US for taking clean energy seriously, but called for fairness in trade relations.

As well as pursuing clean energy, the US has increased its natural gas exports to Europe after Russia caused chaos on EU markets.

Updated: November 27, 2022, 9:44 PM