Former Executive Director, Europe & the U.S.-UK Business Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
March 26, 2021
President Biden’s recent summit with European leaders is a demonstrable indicator that Washington and Brussels are committed to revitalizing transatlantic relations. Robust and productive engagement is a must if we’re to respond successfully to a multitude of shared challenges—including the pandemic, climate change, the digital transformation of the global economy, and China’s unfair practices at home and abroad. The data certainly is clear: when it comes to trade and investment, we have no more important partner than Europe.
According to the Chamber’s new Transatlantic Economy 2021 report, released in partnership with AmCham EU, the United States and Europe continue to enjoy the world’s largest commercial relationship. Over $1.5 trillion in two-way trade each year and $6.5 trillion in two-way investment support 16 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. Sustaining and deepening these links will help us achieve sustainable growth as we emerge from the pandemic.
Other notable findings:
- Together the U.S. and Europe account for over 33% of global GDP.
- Over 60% of all foreign investment in the U.S. comes from Europe, and vice versa.
- 16 of the world’s 20 top investors in R&D are American or European companies.
- U.S. and European consumers account for 50% of global personal consumption—compared to only 15% for China and India combined.
At the report’s launch event, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the transatlantic relationship as the “beating heart of global cooperation” and that the U.S. and Europe share the “language of cooperation in international affairs…[and] free enterprise and fair competition.” Von der Leyen also highlighted opportunities for collaboration on a “green” recovery. Europe and the U.S. accounted for over 80% of all green bonds, which support climate and environmental projects, and 78% of sustainable debt issued in 2020. American and European companies have also made significant investments in each other’s renewable energy markets.
The Transatlantic Economy report also makes clear that the U.S. and Europe must partner to respond to China’s unfair commercial and regulatory practices at home as well as its coercive actions abroad. Recent tit-for-tat sanctionsbetween Brussels and Beijing jeopardizes their bilateral investment deal and also underscores why cooperation is useful. It’s encouraging that U.S. and European leaders relaunched their formal dialogue on China to compare notes and identify actionable priorities for cooperation.
We have a vital opportunity to broaden and deepen ties with our allies. Eliminating long-standing trade irritants—including ending the large civil aircraft subsidy dispute and eliminating U.S. tariffs on European steel and aluminum—is a key first step to re-affirming our ties. Both trade disputes will escalate significantly this summer absent quick resolution, and while the current momentum is encouraging, we need lasting solutions.
We also need to finalize a revised Privacy Shield agreement quickly in order to ensure uninterrupted transatlantic data flows, and we are encouraged by the recent announcement that the two sides want to intensify talks to that end. Data is the lifeblood of every sector of our economy—developing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in record time would have been nearly impossible without shared international clinical trial data, for example—and it’s critical to get this sorted.
The numbers don’t lie: Millions of American jobs depend on transatlantic ties. The Chamber remains steadfast in our commitment to pressing for greater collaboration. We will continue to be vocal in supporting what works and won’t hesitate to call out what’s not. Let’s not miss this moment.
About the authors
Garrett Workman is the former Executive Director for Europe and the Executive Director of the U.S.-UK Business Council at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.