WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden and top EU official Ursula von der Leyen announced Friday the start of negotiations on granting access to European producers seeking to export critical minerals for EV batteries under a new US program to stimulate the green economy. “We intend to immediately begin negotiations on a targeted critical minerals agreement for the purpose of enabling relevant critical minerals extracted or processed in the European Union” to qualify for the US government subsidies under Biden’s signature Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) stimulus plan, they said in a joint statement.

Batteries are a vital part of the US plan for massive expansion of electric vehicle production. The IRA sets aside some $370 billion for tax credits and clean energy subsidies, but contains a “made-in-America” requirement for qualification. European leaders have grown worried that EU-based energy and auto companies will be shut out or move to the United States.

The aim of the critical mineral talks will be to provide one significant exemption for the EU. “Today we agreed that we will work on critical raw materials that have been sourced or processed in the European Union and to give them access to the American market as if they were sourced in the American market. We will work on an agreement,” von der Leyen told reporters after meeting Biden. In their joint statement, the two leaders stressed that the IRA and new European initiatives meant to mirror the program, such as the Green Deal Industrial Plan, should work in tandem. “Both sides will take steps to avoid any disruptions in transatlantic trade and investment flows that could arise from their respective incentives. We are working against zero-sum competition so that our incentives maximize clean energy deployment and jobs-and do not lead to windfalls for private interests,” the statement said. — AFP