Chargé d’Affaires Adam Shub’s Remarks at AmCham EU’s Transatlantic Conference

March 10, 2017

Remarks (as prepared) by Chargé d’Affaires Adam Shub
AmCham EU’s Transatlantic Conference
Brussels, Belgium

Thank you, Karl, for that kind introduction. I’m very pleased to be here today to speak with the business community about how important we are to each other on both sides of the ocean.

Between AmCham EU and its AmCham sister organizations throughout the member states, you speak for hundreds of U.S. companies with deep connections and investments in the European Union.  Many of those companies, some who are represented in the audience today, have been active in Europe for over 50 years, some over 100, and, through the AmCham organization, each of you has a voice and a role in advancing U.S. business interests in Europe AND the future of Europe for U.S. business.

Speaking for the U.S. Mission to the EU, let me say that we greatly value our partnership with the AmCham and appreciate all of the work that you do to coordinate the voice of American business.  Karl, Susan, you have a great team, you are an invaluable resource and close partner.

I want to take some time today to reflect upon the transatlantic relationship, and talk about what we are doing together to build on that relationship:  the changes and the continuity.

It is a remarkable time for both the European Union and the United States, and no doubt history will remember this as a significant era.  Just a hundred years ago, we were in a World War and at the beginning of the Russian Revolution.  And today we are approaching the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.  Indeed, we have come a long way, and looking back with the long lens of time, the relative turbulence in today’s world is probably not as unsettling or unusual as it can seem at this moment.

Regarding the new Administration, we are only seven weeks into the new U.S. Administration and the nearly minute-by-minute updates on confirmation hearings might make this arduous process appear unique, but we know it takes time for a new Cabinet to be put into place and this is a normal transition process.  For example, just last week we saw confirmation of the new Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross. President Obama’s first Commerce Secretary, Gary Locke, was not confirmed until late March and it was nearly 100 days before the cabinet was in place.

On the subject to Free and Fair Trade, what we do know is that there will always be strong proponents for free trade and the transatlantic relationship in Washington.  Anyone visiting the United States and meeting with representatives of our government at all levels can hear first-hand how passionate the representation for free trade is.  Federal, State, and local representatives are acutely aware of how important business interests are to their constituencies and the electoral map shows that the most export-intensive places tend to be smaller cities in the Midwest and Southeast, the same places that shaped our last election.  The Administration has been actively engaging with the Congress and key stakeholders to develop a policy to advance a trade agenda that provides expanded economic opportunities to the American people.  In addition to negotiating new rules, we will continue to seek to enforce the rules already in place.  As Benjamin Franklin said, “commerce among nations must be fair and equitable.”

 

Let’s take a look at the transatlantic relationship.

This relationship represents half of the world’s economic output, supports 14 million jobs on both continents, and improves the lives and well-being of all of our citizens.  The United States and the EU remain each other’s most important markets and together they represent the largest and wealthiest economic relationship in the world – accounting for over 35% of the world’s GDP in terms of purchasing power and generating 5.5 trillion dollars in commercial sales annually.  Moreover, the United States and Europe are each other’s primary source and destination for foreign direct investment.  Over many decades, no place in the world has attracted more U.S. FDI than Europe. In fact, since the start of this century, Europe has attracted over 56% of total U.S. global investment.  Maintaining and growing our transatlantic relationship is vital to our continued mutual prosperity.

And for business, this means the Single Market.  Indeed, I know you all value the single market. That’s why your companies are here.  The 500 million consumer-strong single market has incredible benefits and an ease of doing business that makes it an attractive destination for your companies.  Maintaining and strengthening the transatlantic relationship is in the interest of American business.

The single market has not only delivered profits and market share.  Not only return on investment for funds on both sides of the Atlantic.  It has delivered better prices and more choices for consumers.  In an independent study commissioned by AmCham EU on the impact of the EU Single Market, LE Europe found that integration in the single market brings an a 1,050 euro increase to GDP per capita, a 600 euro increase in household consumption, and 3.6 million additional jobs – EVERY year.

These positive efficiencies of the single market are all around us in ways we have come to take for granted.  The free movement across borders has become such second nature that it is easy to forget that less than a generation ago, this was just a dream.  Today, there are Europeans who are not only digital natives, having grown up with the expectation of the internet, but also borderless in their views on the opportunities Europe has for them.  Moving across state borders in pursuit of opportunities is a well-known aspect of the American experience, and now citizens of the EU have the same freedom and flexibility.  The ability to bring together the human resources, materials, or capital needed to effectively run your business across the single market is a great advantage.

Just a year ago, when this conference took place, the speculation was all about the Brexit vote.  Few predicted the ultimate outcome where we stand today.  As we work together to ensure that we do not lose the progress that has been made in the single market, it’s worth taking some time to reflect on what the Brexit vote signals.

While there are many Europeans who feel the benefits of being a citizen of Europe, society is also divided.  The dry statistics on GDP growth are not telling a compelling story.  And, the narratives that we find persuasive here in Brussels or Washington are not necessarily resonating with parts of the population on both sides of the ocean that may not travel, didn’t grow up with the internet, and perhaps feel left behind by globalization.  Their disenfranchised voices in the Brexit vote and the U.S. election and its aftermath can teach us a lot about the issues we need to address going forward.

What did they tell us?

Foremost, that there was not a clear understanding of what the EU is and the role it plays in their everyday lives.  We have evidence of this from the same source that all of those digital natives turn to:  Google.  Following the official announcement of the Brexit result, the following were the top 5 questions googled from the UK on the European Union:

  • What does it mean to leave the EU?
  • What is the EU?
  • Which countries are in the EU?
  • What will happen now that we’ve left the EU?
  • How many countries are in the EU?

And, if not knowing what the EU is wasn’t enough, add to this all of the anti-trade stories that permeate the public perception.  In the United States, in 1960, about one in four American workers had a job in manufacturing. Today fewer than one in 10 are employed in the sector.  There are a lot of reasons for this shift, including automation or manufacturing elsewhere.  For most U.S. workers, real wages — that is, after inflation is taken into account — have been flat or even falling for decades, regardless of whether the economy has been adding or subtracting jobs.  In this environment, anti-trade and investment feelings can grow and spread.

We cannot just vote yes or no for globalization – that is reality – AmCham members know that business will suffer if there is a disintegration of the benefits of the single market.   How do we find ways to rebuild trust and confidence in the goals of this important project?  How do we tell the story of the benefits of the single market in such a way that it truly reaches all stakeholders in a meaningful way?  The average citizen needs to feel that they are not just on the losing end of globalization.  We have to do more than convince each other here in Brussels.

For its part, the U.S. government, with the support and participation of its business community, is an active proponent of the benefits of trade.  In most urban areas of the United States, at least one in twenty LOCAL dollars comes from exports.  In his address two weeks ago, the President said that “[he] believe[s] strongly in free trade,” but said that “it also has to be fair trade,” a phrase that is also frequently heard here in Brussels regarding the EU’s trade policy.  While the new Administration is currently evaluating the status of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) negotiations, it has identified its broad trade objectives, which include enforcing trade laws, expanding exports, and protecting intellectual property rights.   For example, trade secrets, pirated software, and counterfeiting cost the United States between $225 billion and $600 billion per year, and when it comes to intellectual property (IP) theft, there’s the rest of the world, and then there’s China.  In 2015, mainland China and Hong Kong accounted for 87% of counterfeit goods seized by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

The U.S. Mission to the EU also actively engages in policy work to support American business interests.

  • This past year, the Commerce Department and the European Commission successfully negotiated the Privacy Shield agreement, preserving the ability of U.S. companies to transfer data across the Atlantic. Indeed, the United States and the EU are also each other’s most important trading partner when it comes to digitally deliverable services. Cross-border data flows between the United States and Europe, at about 15 terabits per second, are by far the highest in the world – 50 percent higher than the data flows between the United States and Asia in absolute terms, and 400 percent higher on a per capita basis.
  • We continue to note that there are many sectors where there is significant progress to be made. In a case cited by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, for instance, a U.S. company that sought to export a popular model of light truck to Europe had to create 100 unique parts, spending an additional 42 million dollars on design and development, and perform rigorous tests of 33 different vehicle systems — “without any performance differences in terms of safety or emissions.”
  • It was exactly these sorts of divergences that we were discussing in T-TIP – , and we maintain several transatlantic channels with our counterparts to continue working to cooperate in these areas.
  • This cooperation has produced a number of tangible results, most recently with the agreement between the United States and EU to utilize each other’s good manufacturing practice inspections of pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities. The amended agreement ‎represents the culmination of nearly three years of U.S. Food and Drug Administration and EU cooperation as part of the Mutual Reliance Initiative and will allow the FDA and EU drug inspectors to rely upon information from drug inspections conducted within each other’s borders. Ultimately, this will enable the FDA and EU to avoid the duplication of drug inspections, lower inspection costs and enable regulators to devote more resources to other parts of the world where there may be greater risk.

Despite the areas for improvement that we are working to resolve, the overall framework of the single market provides what the business community needs to thrive:  predictability and legal certainty.  As we face the future of Brexit together, we know that this is what business will continue to need.

So, what can we expect the future of the European market to look like during Brexit and following Brexit?  That is a story that I call upon you, as the business community, to write.  My question for you today is:  What is your vision for a stronger European Union?  You are the job creators as well as consumers, and it is your views that will need to be heard to shape the European market that you want.  As the business community, you have an enormous stake in this future and at this critical time, your perspectives need to be heard.

As many of you know, we are actively reaching out to the business community throughout Europe to gather your views.  I greatly appreciate all of the engagement that you have already had with us to let us know your concerns and help us to understand how we may most effectively advocate for U.S. business interests – in the UK and in the EU.  And from this engagement, we know you are one of the strongest advocates for strengthening the single market.  We know that supply chains and regulatory challenges are on your minds.  I want to hear from you.  The Commission, European Parliament and Member States in this room want to hear from you.  While Brussels is abuzz with speculation about Brexit, your businesses are where the rubber hits the road so to speak, and we want to understand your concrete, pragmatic concerns so we can strengthen our transatlantic relationship together.  I look forward to engaging with each of you on your specific issues.

At this historic time, the United States’ commitment to the European Union is steadfast and enduring, and it is our belief that a strong unified EU is good for both sides of the Atlantic.  Just a few weeks ago, the Vice President of the United States was here in Brussels to reaffirm that the EU can count on the United States’ wholehearted and unequivocal support for the idea of a united Europe.  Although we are separated by an ocean, we are joined by a common heritage and by a common commitment.  We share the same values in the democratic system.  We have strong financial ties.  As we wait on key leadership positions to be filled at both the cabinet level and on down the chain, including those with a great impact on business, such as the U.S. Trade Representative, the workings of government continue, and we know that the emphasis on our strong transatlantic relationship will continue as well.

Thank you once again for providing the opportunity to speak with you today.