Biden and Sunak agree to intensify the economic relationship between the US and the UK | International
US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Thursday an intensification of economic ties between their countries. It is a consolation prize for the British and their aspirations for a free trade agreement, and it seals the recovery of the traditional bilateral friendship after a few years of estrangement from the Donald Trump era. "We can count on each other with absolute confidence," said the British head of government at a joint press conference after the two met in the Oval Office.
The so-called "Atlantic declaration" signed by the two leaders foresees an increase in bilateral cooperation in areas from the energy transition to the Defense industry, including the development of hypersonic missiles. It also stipulates that both countries will negotiate a trade agreement on critical minerals, essential in the energy transition towards cleaner sources: they are needed to manufacture solar panels and batteries for electric vehicles, among others. At present, its extraction and processing are almost completely controlled by China.
The two countries also promise to increase their collaboration in the development of artificial intelligence, semiconductors and quantum technology, among other cutting-edge technological sectors. They also want to strengthen the reliability of supply chains.
The agreement has been drafted with the idea of confronting China and Russia, the two countries that have established a quasi-non-military alliance, and seeks to strengthen the economic security of their nations, an increasingly priority objective in Washington's foreign policy. and other western allies. This doctrine, which has gained further traction in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine and what the US perceives as risks of "economic coercion" by Beijing, subjects trade and industrial policy to national security considerations rather than principles of free trade.
“China and Russia are willing to manipulate, exploit, or steal our intellectual property, use technology for authoritarian purposes, and deprive us of critical resources like energy. They won't get it," Sunak said.
Sunak's visit sought to send the message that bilateral relations are returning to their close path, after a few years in which the mandates of Donald Trump on one side of the Atlantic, and Boris Johnson and Liz Truss on the other, motivated a certain distance between both governments.
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This Thursday's meeting is the fourth held by Biden and the British prime minister in less than a year. The first took place during the G20 summit last November in Bali. It was followed by meetings in California to announce a nuclear submarine deal for Australia within the Aukus alliance in March and in Belfast to mark 25 years of the Good Friday peace accords for Northern Ireland in April.
On every occasion they have displayed harmony, be it in their clear support for kyiv after the Russian invasion of Ukraine fifteen months ago, or in a firm position against China, symbolized precisely in the Aukus agreements.
Both leaders planned to address in their bilateral issues such as the war in Ukraine or economic security, in areas such as the protection of supply chains or the protection of national economies against coercive measures from other countries. According to the British embassy in Washington, the British head of government planned to express London's willingness to "prioritize economic security in a similar way to how we have historically prioritized security, defence, intelligence sharing." .
Sunak also wanted to address the UK's aspirations around artificial intelligence, one of its top priorities. The prime minister has convened the first global summit on AI in London this autumn. According to the British media, he also aspires for a future global regulatory agency to be based in that capital.
“The United States is our closest ally. They and we are the respective partner we go to first in everything from ensuring the safety of our citizens to growing our economies... This is why it is so important for a British Prime Minister to forge a close and frank relationship with the President of the United States: in every global problem they will see us collaborating side by side”, declared the head of the Government in London before embarking on a trip to Washington.
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