UK slams ‘protectionist’ Biden


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LONDON — Joe Biden\’s \”protectionist\” Inflation Reduction Act won\’t help the U.S. counter the rise of China and could create a \”single point of failure\” in key supply chains, Britain\’s trade chief Kemi Badenoch warned.

Speaking at a POLITICO event Tuesday night, Badenoch — recently promoted to head up the U.K.\’s new Department for Business and Trade — predicted the flagship law would not achieve its key aims, and insisted the U.K. is not sitting on the sidelines in the transatlantic tussle over the plan.

The comments came just minutes after the U.S. ambassador to the U.K. mounted a spirited defense of the IRA at the same event.

The Inflation Reduction Act offers billions in subsidies and tax credits to try and incentivize take-up of electric vehicles and build up green infrastructure. But European and British carmakers are particularly concerned about the impact on their own industries of massive help for U.S. firms.

Speaking on Tuesday night, Badenoch said Britain — which has been lobbying against the plan but is not prepping its own subsidies — is \”working very well with a group of like-minded countries who are worried about the Inflation Reduction Act.\”

\”The EU is very worried and we\’re working jointly with them on it,\” she said. \”It\’s not just the EU doing stuff and we\’re not in the room. Japan is worried. South Korea is worried. Switzerland is worried.\”

Many countries, Badenoch contended, are now \”looking at what the U.S. is doing\” with concern.

\”It is onshoring in a way that could actually create problems with the supply chain for everybody else,\” she said.

\”And that will not have the impact that it wants to have when it\’s looking at the economic challenge that China presents. So no, I don\’t think it\’s a good idea, not just because it\’s protectionist. But it also creates a single point of failure in a different place, when actually what we want is diversification and strengthening of supply chains across the board.\”

Speaking earlier Tuesday night, U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Jane Hartley argued that the plan could have major positive implications for countries beyond the U.S.

\”One of the things I would say is there\’s going to be a huge amount of money, R&D — the technology is going to improve, the technology is going to be cheaper,\” she said. \”The technology is going to be used by everyone in the world — not just the U.S.\”

Hartley stressed that U.S. Commerce Secretary Janet Yellen is \”looking pretty hard\” at the act during its so-called comment period, when U.S. agencies take feedback on a plan. Both President Biden and U.S. Trade Secretary Katherine Tai had, she said, stressed that their country \”didn\’t do this to hurt our allies — we want to protect our allies.\”

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