The FINANCIAL — Interview with Susan Danger, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU (AmChamEU).
Q. The theme of your transatlantic conference this year was ‘Atlantic drift? The EU, the US and the WTO in a new world.’ What was your main takeaway from the conference? Are we drifting?
A. The EU and the US are historic partners and allies and our relationship is here to stay. Having said that, there are a few issues that the two sides are facing, particularly on trade. As a business, we believe we are stronger when we work together – and so we are calling on the EU and the US to reinvigorate their longstanding cooperation and address the many challenges we face as a team. That was what our conference was all about, and I was encouraged by the positive rhetoric from both sides today and their intent to pursue this.
Q. Businesses on both sides of the Atlantic stand to benefit from enhanced regulatory cooperation. A recent example is the EU-US Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on Good Manufacturing Practices, which saves an average of $380,000 per site inspection for pharmaceutical companies on both sides. What other benefits do business stand to gain from future EU-US trade talks?
A. The aim of the transatlantic trade talks – as with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – is to deepen what is already the largest and most integrated relationship in the world. An ambitious EU-US trade agreement could unlock new opportunities for businesses of all sizes, particularly SMEs who don’t have the resources of larger companies to overcome the barriers that still exist in our trade. In addition, the two sides could use these negotiations as an opportunity to set new, global standards for the rest of the world to follow.
Q. As a representative of US business in Europe, how big of a role do you see US business playing in Europe’s economy now and in the future?
A. Across Europe, US companies play a key role in supporting the prosperity of local communities and ensuring that continued investment in Europe benefits the people who work, live and want to raise a family here. Our members demonstrate this commitment through their support for local, social entrepreneurship programmes. For example, since 2016, Lilly has supported social entrepreneurs in Spain developing sustainable business projects in the health sector. It is through such investments that US business continue to prove their commitment to the European economy.
Q. Why is a strong transatlantic economy important for the EU?
A. The transatlantic economy is a primary driver of global growth and is integral to the livelihoods of millions of Europeans – and Americans too. Investments on both sides power this relationship. By way of illustration, around two-thirds of all US FDI goes to Europe, creating wealth and opportunities for citizens across the continent. In Europe, US companies already support some 4.8 million jobs, as well as millions more in the supply chain. We want this to continue. For that, we need our strong, stable and mutually beneficial relationship to endure.
Q. If you had one of the newly elected MEPs coming into your office in July, what would you say are your top priorities for the next EU mandate?
A. As American companies committed to Europe, the competitiveness of the region in the global economy is of utmost importance to us, and we want to engage in the debate on the future of Europe and the EU’s priorities. That is why we released our ‘Committed to Europe: Agenda for Action’, where we identify four main priority areas that capture how business and government can work together to drive the political agenda over the next five years. The four priority areas are: empowering people, boosting the Single Market, leading global cooperation and investing in the future. For each, we offer concrete recommendations to policy-makers to ensure a growth-orientated business and investment climate in Europe.
Q. AmCham EU has an exciting new report coming out on Life Sciences and healthcare innovation. How important a role do you see the US pharmaceutical industry playing in Europe?
New technologies are transforming the way we deliver treatments to patients and organise our healthcare system. This is true across the life sciences sector as the convergence of these technologies is identifying common trends and new challenges, bringing groundbreaking benefits to patients and revolutionising the industry. The US healthcare industry, including pharmaceutical companies, are at the forefront of driving this integrated strategy. They encourage innovation throughout the sector to ensure healthcare systems’ future sustainability.
Our ‘Life Sciences for Europe’ report will be available soon. We hope it will be a useful tool for all stakeholders seeking new ideas to support healthcare innovation in Europe.