Transatlantic Partnership: An Opportunity to Lead Together

By Lance Fritz, Chairman, President & CEO, Union Pacific, Chair of Business Roundtable Trade and International Committee

Jacob Wallenberg, Chair of the Board of Investor AB, Chair of the European Round Table for Industry (ERT) Trade & Market Access Committee

Later this week, the leaders of the United States and the European Union will meet in Brussels to forge consensus on a common agenda and boost transatlantic relations to better meet a range of significant challenges facing the world.

The transatlantic economy is the most prosperous intercontinental relationship in the world — generating $5.6 trillion in sales each year and employing around 16 million people on both sides of the Atlantic. The United States and EU together account for a third of the world’s GDP and half of global consumption, and we are each other’s largest market and investment partner. These economic ties have been built on the deeper connections between the United States and Europe built through our shared history, values and objectives.

Accordingly, the importance of the U.S. and EU strategic partnership cannot be overstated and should continue to be a driving force of the international rules-based system to harness market-driven inclusive growth.

As business leaders from Europe and the United States, we come together to underscore our steadfast support for the transatlantic political and economic relationship. Strengthened and prosperous relations between the EU and the United States will determine both our futures. We need to put our partnership to work and redouble efforts to support our citizens, companies, workers, consumers and the multilateral economic system upon which they depend.

Geopolitical uncertainty, the COVID-19 crisis, economic disruptions, technological change, climate change — all of these demand innovative and aligned responses. Acting together, the EU and the United States can contribute to a sustainable global recovery, including the implementation of the Paris Agreement, build a stronger transatlantic economy, shape standards globally, increase resilience in value chains, and strengthen multilateral institutions and the global rules-based system. Joint EU-U.S. leadership is also critical to forging alliances with other like-minded partners to tackle common challenges.

We welcome recent steps taken to address bilateral disputes. We appreciate the renewed efforts to resolve the Boeing-Airbus dispute, and we support the removal of tariffs on steel and aluminum and retaliatory tariffs. We need a multilateral agreement at the OECD on taxation issues that will repeal and prevent disruptive unilateral actions and avoid retaliation and another trade conflict. As companies and consumers crucially rely on international data flows, it is equally important to achieve a sustainable agreement for the transfer of personal data to replace the Privacy Shield.

Continued uncertainty on these issues would undermine business confidence, investments and the creation of jobs and growth, which are dearly needed as we work through the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge both sides to make real progress and deliver meaningful solutions.

Achieving results in these areas can also advance a more comprehensive strategic and forward-looking agenda. We are strongly in favour of the establishment of a dedicated platform for collaboration on key issues such as the green and digital transitions, enhancing bilateral trade and regulatory cooperation, and modernising and revitalising the WTO and rules-based trade.

Let’s build on this momentum at the upcoming EU-U.S. Summit to deliver tangible results for citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. As leaders of the transatlantic business community, we will work together to support U.S. and EU government leaders in strengthening the transatlantic partnership to best meet the challenges of the 21st century.