Bart Gordon and Giovanni Campi / Jan 2022
The trans-Atlantic partnership is a special relationship formed over the latter half of the 20th century through deep-rooted democratic ties and the establishment of policies to support our mutual commercial interests. The U.S. and EU share the same enthusiastic interest in advancing business, technology, and trade because we recognize that thriving business communities and strong economies ensure our way of life.
Strained diplomatic relations and tensions in recent years have threatened our shared prosperity. The trans-Atlantic economy, one of the world’s greatest, generates $6.2 trillion in total commercial sales a year and employs up to 16 million workers. The US and EU are not just each other’s biggest trading partners but also the most significant foreign direct investment destinations. As the world’s wealthiest market accounting for around a third of global GDP, there is far too much at stake for our interconnected economies to follow an isolationist agenda.
As trans-Atlantic diplomacy was put on hold for several years, we witnessed the erosion of a carefully nurtured system of global technological trade responsible for progress and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. This year, however, we have seen spurred momentum to rekindle relationships and strengthen ties between the US and EU. Shared dialogue on issues that matter most to our nations has dominated the calendar year, and much progress has been made.
For example, the recent resolution of the steel and aluminum tariff dispute provided certainty and fostered optimism for the future. The resolution was particularly welcomed by the trans-Atlantic business community for helping to open the door for the US and EU to further strengthen economic ties and opportunities for commerce.
Importantly, the formation of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) has breathed new life into the trans-Atlantic relationship and, in this year alone, has already moved the needle on its mission to rebuild a shared vision of technological prosperity that works for the benefit of those living and doing business on both sides of the Atlantic. As the TTC’s work continues into 2022, there are a handful of priorities that need to take precedence as we work to restore relations and progress policies to rebuild our robust trans-Atlantic economy.
First, standards have historically been a stumbling block in trans-Atlantic trade discussions, with the US and EU often diverging in their approaches. We could see divergence occur yet again as emerging technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and the like, begin to exert influence on trans-Atlantic commerce and trade. To promote cooperation and ensure commerce remains resilient between the US and EU, the TTC should consider establishing international standards along with equal trans-Atlantic access to public procurement markets for emerging technologies. In particular, the TTC should promote a human-centered approach to AI to ensure the fruits of this technology are brought the bare but instances of misuse that threaten our shared values and democracies, surveillance for example, are contained.
The past two years have highlighted weaknesses in the US-EU supply chain, specifically regarding semiconductors. It was a wake-up call for many within the trans-Atlantic business community. However, the TTC is uniquely positioned to lead on this issue. Through their working group for supply chain security, in dialogue with third party experts such as the TABC and the European Industrial Alliance on Processors and Semiconductors, we can together identify common vulnerabilities and dependencies and work towards increasing trans-Atlantic capacity to produce semiconductors. Long-term capacity building and strengthening our domestic ecosystems with the right incentives will be paramount to ensure history does not repeat itself.
Finally, the TTC has an integral role to play when it comes to protecting our democracy and core values. Joint standards and practices on critical and emerging technologies are key, but this cannot be done without investment screening mechanisms. As the world’s wealthiest market, we need to protect trans-Atlantic commerce from unfair foreign investments or those that could potentially pose a national security threat. The TTC should adopt this policy and encourage risk analysis cooperation and the exchange of information to ensure the trans-Atlantic economy remains robust.
The new year brings new opportunities for the trans-Atlantic relationship. Whether through the TTC or other forums, US and EU officials should continue to work with the trans-Atlantic business community to advance a pro-business trans-Atlantic trade agenda that helps to keep our economies and nations strong.
Giovanni Campi and the Honorable Bart Gordan are the European and US Directors of the Trans-Atlantic Business Council, the only membership organization to represent businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.