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US and EU Reaffirm Their Commitment to Exploring Trade and Tech-Related Issues

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The U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) released its first joint statement reaffirming its commitment to exploring solutions to large-scale issues such as the West's reliance on other regions for much of its tech supply chain.

The council has a broad area of focus that covers everything from encouraging cross-Atlantic trade agreements to combating the climate crisis. That's where the "trade" part comes in. As for the "technology," well, the TTC's statement also revealed a wide variety of global problems it's going to explore on that front. Read:

"We share a strong desire to drive the digital transformation that spurs trade and investment, benefits workers, protects the environment and climate, strengthens our technological and industrial leadership, sets high standards globally, boosts innovation, and protects and promotes critical and emerging technologies and infrastructure. We intend to cooperate on the development and deployment of new technologies in ways that reinforce our shared democratic values, including respect for universal human rights, advance our respective efforts to address the climate change crisis, and encourage compatible standards and regulations. We intend to cooperate to effectively address the misuse of technology, to protect our societies from information manipulation and interference, promote secure and sustainable international digital connectivity, and support human rights defenders."

Many of those goals are nebulous—there are many ways to use technology to "address the climate change crisis," for example, and "the misuse of technology" is such a broad statement that it borders on meaningless—but the TTC did identify a few specific tech-related problems it's planning to explore in the months ahead.

The TTC started with AI technologies, which it said "can threaten our shared values and fundamental freedoms if they are not developed and deployed responsibly or if they are misused," so the council's members will "affirm their willingness and intention to develop and implement AI systems that are innovative and trustworthy and that respect universal human rights and shared democratic values."

Next up: addressing the chip shortage. This has been a significant problem for nearly every industry on the planet, and the U.S. and EU have both explored ways of increasing domestic semiconductor production so they can reduce their reliance on Asia, which currently accounts for almost the entire market. Companies such as Intel and TSMC have also committed to building new fabs in the regions as a result.

The TTC said the U.S. and EU were reaffirming their "commitment to building a partnership on the rebalancing of global supply chains in semiconductors with a view to enhancing respective security of supply as well as their respective capacity to design and produce semiconductors, especially, but not limited to, those with leading-edge capabilities." (Just in case anyone thought they'd stopped caring.)

"This partnership should be balanced and of equal interest for both sides," the TTC said. "We underline the importance of working together to identify gaps in the semiconductor value chain, and strengthening our domestic semiconductor ecosystems."

The council announced the formation of 10 working groups devoted to exploring specific areas of its stated mission, and of those, eight are directly tech-related. These range from the Technology Standards group "tasked to develop approaches for coordination and cooperation in critical and emerging technology standards including AI and other emerging technologies" to a new Export Controls group.

More information about some of the TTC's specific concerns, particularly those involving AI and the semiconductor supply chain, is available via the joint statement. The U.S. Department of State has also published a fact sheet about the council, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has shared more information about its involvement with several of the working groups announced Wednesday as well.