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Transatlantic relations – too important to fail

Transatlantic relations remain strong and important even though they have recently had a very bad press. Business, both in the EU and the US, has a role to play in overcoming current difficulties. Together, we can effectively promote a positive transatlantic agenda and help to fight stereotypes and misinformation. These are just some of the conclusions of the debate with Susan Danger, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU. The debate took place during the Employers' Group meeting on 11 July 2018.

The single market as well as education and skills are crucial for US companies operating in the EU, according to Susan Danger. As regards Brexit and the future EU-UK relationship, she recalled that the United Kingdom remained a springboard into the EU for US companies. That is why trade in services and goods between the EU and the UK should remain as seamless as possible.

The figures on the transatlantic economic relationship clearly show how important EU-US cooperation is. It provides 15 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, and the two blocs account for one third of global GDP. Almost 60% of total US global investment has been attracted by Europe since 2010. It is important to publicise these figures across the US and the EU, to make people realise the importance of transatlantic relations. AmChamEU is currently preparing studies showing specific examples of investments in each Member State.

We are certainly facing serious challenges – the "America first" approach, an escalating trade dispute, and the fact that the role of the WTO is under threat. Ms Danger said that a trade war would be hugely damaging for both sides and that there was a need for coordinated action to overcome this crisis. Unilateral actions will not bring desired results. The same applies to the WTO. Certain things can be improved in the way global trade is organised, but we need to work together to find the solution.

We cannot assume that the benefits of trade are understood or shared. That is why business must stand up and speak out about both the benefits and the values of trade and democracy. Ms Danger said that the EU and the way it is organised often caused confusion in Washington – hence the importance of promoting positive examples of cooperation.

In the debate, the members of the Employers' Group commented on a number of aspects of transatlantic relations and asked numerous questions. They agreed that there was mistrust and misunderstanding on both sides. The longer the EU and US quarrel, the more China benefits. In addition, the issue of enhancing trade at SME level was raised.

"We could transmit AmChamEU's main messages for American policy-makers to the EU administration," concluded Jacek Krawczyk, President of the Employers' Group. European business is willing to cooperate closely with its American counterparts to improve relations, in spite of politics.