Trade disputes cast a shadow Macron's flashy trip to the White House

Washington: French President Emmanuel Macron was due to arrive in Washington on Tuesday for a rare state visit hosted by Joe Biden, but the pomp and circumstance at the White House will be overshadowed by apparent disagreements about US-EU trade.

This is the first official state visit of Biden's presidency due to the Covid delay, and US officials say choosing France for the honor reflects their strong historical ties and their close cooperation in confronting Russia over its war in Ukraine. There is a reflection of both.

In addition to a formal military reception, a somber visit to Arlington National Cemetery, a meeting in the Oval Office, a private dinner with his spouse on Wednesday, and a performance by Grammy-winning American composer Jon Batiste at the state banquet on Thursday,

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The trip, which ends on Friday with a stop in the former French city of New Orleans, will be a carefully staged display of transatlantic friendship in stark contrast to Macron's tense first experience of a state visit as Donald Trump's guest in 2018.

Last year, a diplomatic row erupted when Australia decided to sign up for US nuclear submarines instead of French submarines.

But despite the low likelihood of Trump-style fireworks, Macron has significant grievances to air. The Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, which would pour billions of dollars into climate-friendly technologies while strongly favoring American-made goods, is Biden's signature green industry policy and the source of the most controversy.

Macron will inform Biden that "there is a contradiction between an administration that talks incessantly about coalitions ... and at the same time makes IRA-like decisions that will affect the economies of allies," said Martin Quencez, deputy director of the think tank. According to GMF's Paris office.

The high price of US liquefied natural gas exports, which soared to try and replace canceled Russian deliveries, is another complaint in Europe.

A senior US administration official responded to claims that the US is effectively making money from the Ukraine war by calling these claims "false".

The official also downplayed tensions related to the IRA, saying there were "very constructive talks" about how to avoid bailing out European businesses.

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Before leaving for Washington, Macron urged dozens of business leaders to continue investing in France, highlighting the importance of the issue to Paris. Among them were representatives of American giants McDonald's and Goldman Sachs.

The size of Macron's entourage, which included foreign, defense and finance ministers in addition to business officials and astronauts, showed how important Paris considered the visit.

According to a senior White House official, the main objective is to foster Biden and Macron's ties with France as well as a "personal relationship, alliance relationship".

Coordination on how to help Ukraine resist Russia and how to handle the rise of the Chinese superpower will be improved as part of a more modest-sounding objective.

One of Macron's advisers told AFP that talks with Biden would be "challenging" because "we are not allies on the same page."
US diplomats are angered by Macron's insistence on continuing dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin despite his strong support for Kyiv.

With Washington's more strident tone and EU powers seeking a middle ground, it is unlikely that the China issue will make significant progress.

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"Since 2018, Europe has its own unique strategy for relations with China," tweeted Pascal Confavreux, spokesman for the French embassy in Washington.

According to a senior US official, even if their strategies were "not identical", they should at least be "speaking from a common script".

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