Despite the political tensions separating Europe and the United States, William Drozdiak, president of the New York-based nonprofit The American Council on Germany, said in Atlanta recently that he is “somewhat optimistic” about improved relations between the two, primarily because of the important economic ties that they share. The council was founded in the 1950s to promote mutual understanding between Germany and the U.S.
“The forces of globalization have strengthened the economic ties between Europe and the U.S. more than anywhere else in the world,” he said during an evening reception at the Atlanta law firm Powell Goldstein LLP.
Mr. Drozdiak, the incoming president of the council, previously served as the executive director of the German Marshall Fund’s Transatlantic Center in Brussels, Belgium. Before joining the fund in 2001, he was the chief European correspondent based in Brussels for the Washington Post.
During his remarks, he went to great lengths to describe the extent of the economic relations, which, he added, are “often overlooked.”
“The U.S. and the EU are still the twin turbines of the global economy representing half of the trade and investment flows in the world,” he said. “Their business with each other exceeds $2.5 trillion a year and provides jobs for some 12 million workers.”
He also said that during the past eight years, Americans invested twice as much in the Netherlands as in Mexico and ten times as much as in China. During that time, he added, Europeans invested more in Texas than Americans did in Japan.
Citing recent figures of the U.S. Commerce Department, he said U.S. investment in Eastern Europe greatly exceeded U.S. investment in China. Meanwhile, Europe provides 75 percent of all investment in the U.S. and “it is far and away the biggest foreign source of American jobs.” He specifically cited Siemens AG, which employs some 70,000 Americans.
He also said large U.S. technology firms such as Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. predict that half their global revenues in 2005 will come from Europe.
According to Mr. Drozdiak, politicians who overlook the extent of these ties can be surprised if they try to attack them under the guise of protecting national security.
He described the hasty retreat former Democratic Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina, made in 2000 after seeking to bar any foreign enterprise with more than one-quarter government ownership from acquiring an American-based telecommunications company.
Mr. Hollings’ amendment was aimed at Deutsche Telecom AG’s proposed $55 billion acquisition of VoiceStream Wireless Corp., but because of broadbased opposition to the amendment among his constituents he withdrew the amendment within 48 hours, he said. Deutsche Telecom acquired the U.S. company soon afterward.
To learn more about the activities of the American Council on Germany, go to www.acgusa.org.