US, EU announce plan to boost chip production, combat Russian disinformation

US, EU announce plan to boost chip production, combat Russian disinformation

The United States and the European Union have announced on Monday a joint effort to boost microchip manufacturing and combat Russian disinformation about the war in Ukraine.

The two sides met outside Paris as part of the Trade and Technology Council, a forum created last year that aimed at countering China's increasingly powerful position in the technology sector.

EU and US officials focused their efforts instead on the difficulties created by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, particularly with disinformation.

In its final statement, the council accused Russia of an assault on the truth in Ukraine and promised an early response framework to tackle disinformation in future crises.

Moscow has accused Moscow of trying to deflect blame for food shortages caused by the war in Ukraine, and promised action over Russian disinformation elsewhere in the world.

Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, said we see the damage from the Russian invasion all over the world.

The council said practical actions could include funding or other support to promote access to trustworthy and fact-based information. The council said it had already been instrumental in limiting exports of advanced technology in aerospace and cyber-surveillance to undermine Russia's war effort.

The forum's other main focus is on chip manufacturing and the supply of substances vital for the tech industry such as rare earths, which has put it on a collision course with China.

The statement on rare earth magnets, vital for tech products, including electric vehicles, said companies from the European Union and the United States do not have prominent positions in the supply chain.

Nearly all of the production stages are concentrated in China. The forum pledged to give the chip industry the maximum possible subsidies.

Vestager told reporters on Sunday that they hope to agree on high levels of subsidies - that they will not be more than what is necessary and proportionate and appropriate.

The forum also announced a warning system for disruptions in the supply of semiconductors, which are used to make chips, in order to avoid excessive competition between Western powers.

The chip industry has suffered from a shortage of components, blamed for a boom in global demand for electronic products and pandemic-snarled supply chains.

As both Washington and Brussels look to encourage semiconductor investment in their respective countries, we do so in a coordinated fashion and don't simply encourage a subsidy race, a US official said separately, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The US already put in place its own early warning system in 2021 that looked at supply chains in Southeast Asia and has been very helpful in helping us get ahead of a couple of potential shutdowns earlier this year, the US official said.

The official said that the two sides are looking ahead to supply disruptions caused by the Pandemic lock-downs in China -- the only major economy still hewing to a zero-Covid strategy.

The European Union and the United States will also announce measures on fighting disinformation and hacking, especially from Russia, including a guide on cybersecurity best practices for small and medium-sized companies and a task force on trusted technology suppliers, the US official said.

She said it was not a European matter but a global matter.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo are visiting the talks.