After last year’s Keynote from Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger on the decline of the international order, this year the Consul General of Munich, Meghan Gregonis, spoke about recent developments and future hopes in the transatlantic relations at a time of increased trade tensions.
The Consul General began with reaffirming the United States’ commitment to Europe’s security and to the American-European Partnership, as well as to the NATO alliance. According to the Consul General, it still is the United States’ objective to advance free and fair trade, while emphasizing the need to level the playing field in order to make the best use of the great potential for all the partners included.
The Consul General highlighted Europe’s and America’s co-dependence and transatlantic partnership by mentioning recent statistics. Currently 54 percent of foreign direct investment in the United States comes from Europe alone, and 64 percent of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Europe from the United States. Observing that with this investment also comes appointment, the Consul General added that American, as well as European, companies are the largest source of employment amongst foreign companies in America and in Europe. Bilateral Investment in research and development were similarly impressive as $72.3 billion were invested in 2015 between the United States and the European Union, which constitutes far more than any other investment between two international partners.
The Consul General did not fail to mention, that under the Trump administration the objective was not only to promote transatlantic trade relations, but also to ensure
a freer, fairer and, above all, more reciprocal trade. In light of the latest trade surplus of €64 billion in Germany in 2017, Gregonis expressed the current administration’s intention to eliminate regulatory and tariff hurdles that have kept American companies from competing in key sectors, such as agriculture.
The meeting on 25 July between EU Commissioner President Junker and President Trump was to be interpreted as a promising starting point to this agenda: Both parties agreed to work toward zero tariffs, zero nontariff-barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto-industrial goods. It was also decided to facilitate more exports of US liquefied natural gas to Europe in an effort to help Europe further diversify its energy sources.
The Consul General called upon the business community to follow President Trumps and President Juncker’s incite to an ambitious trade initiative benefiting the United States and the European Union.
Aside from the aggressive time line set by the US government in this regard, the Trump administration’s recently passed tax reform law further promotes foreign investments, which was identified by the Consul General to be one of the main reasons why European companies currently find the United States to be such an attractive investment opportunity.
According to the Consul General, the first step toward the achievement of these goals already lies in recent tremendous growth in the M&A sector on both sides of the Atlantic. This seems to be interpreted as an underlying optimism in our economy.
With negotiations underway for the trade deal between the United States and the European Union, the Consul General finally insisted that the business community must continue to invest in the future of this partnership, meaning to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and labour training.
The Consul General ended her inspiring speech by assuring the audience that the diplomatic lines between Washington, Brussels and Berlin remain open.
Opening Remarks by
US Consul General, Munich