BRUSSELS: Americans invested four times as much in Belgium in 2005 as they did in China last year.
Facts like this one remind us that sometimes, in periods of rapid change, it is important to hang on to the big picture. And the trans-Atlantic economy is as big as it gets.
Collectively, the European Union and the United States register more than $3 trillion of commercial sales annually. Bilateral trade between the European Union and the United States accounts for 40 % of all global trade. Fourteen million jobs are dependent on our economic links.
Such a healthy, prosperous and deep-rooted relationship might lead some to believe that it can look after itself, and that there is no need to nurture it any further.
But we believe there remains enormous untapped potential.
We are convinced that working together, the EU and the US can go much further in reducing remaining barriers, and in the process boost growth, competitiveness, openness and new jobs.
That is why we are pledging a sustained political commitment to strengthening the trans-Atlantic economy.
At the summit meeting between the EU and the US that opens in Washington on Monday, we will sign a framework for greater trans-Atlantic economic integration that sets out a clear vision of where we want to go, adds value to existing work, and provides continuity and accountability.
This initiative will bring major stakeholders into the process, ensuring that legislators, businesses and consumers from both sides of the Atlantic are included.
Central to our approach is a recognition that today, it is non-tariff barriers and regulatory questions that act as the biggest brake on the trans-Atlantic engine.
How is it, for example, that an automobile manufacturer on one side of the Atlantic must go through the long and costly process of meeting two separate sets of car crash requirements before the company can sell its product on the other side of the Atlantic?
We will seek to reduce the existing barriers posed by regulations and avoid new ones appearing by reinforcing the existing trans-Atlantic dialogue on regulatory cooperation. We will pay particular attention to regulatory cooperation in the automotive, medical services, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics sectors.
To guide the way, and keep the focus firmly on results, we have also identified several priority "lighthouse projects" that will have a real impact on trans-Atlantic economic integration. They include:
Effectively protecting intellectual property. This is vital, considering that growing global piracy threatens the competitiveness of our innovative industries, the livelihoods of creative workers, and the health and safety of consumers in the European Union, the US and beyond.
Making investment easier. Our bilateral investment stocks already stand at an astonishing $2 trillion. We will tackle policies and practices that have a negative impact on investment, and so boost growth and jobs.
Securing trade and transport. We must protect the free flow of trade and investment from terrorist threats. This includes not only goods and services, but also the secure movement of business travelers and tourists.
Encouraging convergence in financial market rules. As the worldwide consolidation of financial markets continues apace, it would be foolish to ignore the considerable differences that exist in the way these are regulated on either side of the Atlantic. So we will take steps to converge the most important rules that apply to financial markets, based on high quality principles.
As a sign of things to come, we will soon sign a trans-Atlantic air transport deal that represents the biggest step in aviation liberalization since the Chicago Convention in the 1940s.
This is just the first step. If we can sweep away remaining investment restrictions on US airlines and create truly free, trans-Atlantic skies, we can expect more than 25 million additional EU-US passengers, generate more than $20 billion of benefits for consumers and create 80,000 new jobs in Europe and the United States.
Bringing the World Trade Organization's Doha Development Agenda to a successful conclusion remains a priority for the European Union and the United States. But we are convinced that deeper trans-Atlantic integration will also benefit the whole international community.
It will make market access much easier for third countries and underline the sound economic values that we hold dear, like free markets, respect for property rights, openness to investment, and a clear and predictable regulatory environment.
Forty-five years after President John F. Kennedy's celebrated call for a "declaration of interdependence" between a united Europe and the United States, the time has come to realize the full benefits of an integrated trans-Atlantic economy.