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Supply Lines: Transatlantic turning point

Supply Lines
Bloomberg

After four years of frustration and bitterness resulting from President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda, the European Union is eager to hit the reset button in its relationship with the U.S.

The bloc's leaders will appeal to the incoming Biden administration to mend transatlantic ties at a summit next week, but the EU's executive arm has already given a taste of what's in store.

In an initiative unveiled Wednesday, the European Commission set out how the EU plans to bring the U.S. back into the multilateral system and leverage unity to shape global developments in policy areas ranging from digital to health.

The offer, more than a month and a half before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, reflects the EU's eagerness to put ties with the U.S. on a new footing after they hit unprecedented post-war lows. Biden sounds open to the embrace.

Transatlantic Trust

A key area where Europe hopes to bury the hatchet with Washington is trade, and its man for the job knows how important the task is.

Valdis Dombrovskis, a laser physicist and economist turned politician from Latvia, has become the EU's go-to person for tackling its thorniest problems. In Brussels, Dombrovskis is known for his deadpan, almost robotic delivery and his attention to detail.

But officials who have worked with him — and those who've sat opposite him in negotiations — say that this lack of charisma can be a secret weapon: Dombrovskis, 49, is never fazed, regardless of what is thrown at him. His poker face makes people underestimate him, despite the fact that he has overseen the regulatory framework that put the EU at the forefront of green finance.

People familiar with the matter said Wednesday that Dombrovskis and U.S. trade chief Robert Lighthizer are in regular contact about finding ways to end the dispute over subsidies to Boeing and Airbus, and have stepped up work for a solution before Trump leaves office.

On Bloomberg Television on Thursday, Dombrovskis said it's possible to resolve the issue before Biden is sworn in. "We are still intensively engaged with the current U.S. administration."

Viktoria Dendrinou and Jonathan Stearns in Brussels

Charted Territory

Once a badge of derision, "Made in China" is finding new fans: Chinese brands now account for seven of the country's top 10 cosmetics lines, up from three in 2017, while the share of L'Oréal's Maybelline makeup has plunged by half since 2010.

Today's Must Reads

  • Final stretch | British and EU officials are racing to strike a post-Brexit trade deal before the start of next week. France, meanwhile, warned it could veto the agreement if it doesn't like the terms, piling pressure on the EU negotiating team to yield no more concessions.
  • Store of value | KKR is nearing a deal for a portfolio of U.S. warehouses, a sector that has received a boost during the pandemic as consumers increasingly turn to e-commerce.
  • Delivery limits | UPS is temporarily restricting some packages it takes from big retailers such as Nike, Gap and L.L. Bean as online orders spur record deliveries ahead of the holidays.
  • Chinese advantage | China and the U.K. tried to be friends, but it didn't last. Now Beijing is seizing on the economic vulnerabilities arising from Brexit to press its advantage, just as it's doing with Australia.
  • Listing restrictions | In Washington, the House approved legislation that could lead to Chinese companies including behemoths like Alibaba and Baidu getting kicked off U.S. exchanges if regulators aren't allowed to review their financial audits.
  • Stephanomics podcast | The people Biden has picked to run economic policy can tell us a lot about what we might expect from the next administration. This week's podcast introduces us to the key players and explains what Bidenomics could look like.

On the Bloomberg Terminal

  • Sharpen rules | A U.S. court said Customs and Border Protection must reconsider its determination that an importer evaded duties on Chinese pencils, due to procedural problems with the agency's investigation, Bloomberg Law writes.
  • Plan backfires | China's reported restrictions on Australian coal and copper ore and concentrates may have inadvertently led to tighter markets and higher prices. Bloomberg Intelligence writes.
  • Use the AHOY function to track global commodities trade flows.
  • Click HERE for automated stories about supply chains.
  • See BNEF for BloombergNEF's analysis of clean energy, advanced transport, digital industry, innovative materials, and commodities.
  • Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts.

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