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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Europe Returns To Center Stage Of U.S. Policy

A tectonic force seems to have gone into reverse. If there was one clear foreign-policy message from the Clinton administration in its first year in office it was that the era of Europe in U.S. foreign policy was drawing to a close. "Too Eurocentric for too long," was how Secretary of State Warren Christopher put it last November. The new trade-oriented foreign-policy team looked at the raw numbers of American-Asian trade, which in 1993 for the first time topped $350 billion, and declared that America's economic future lay across the Pacific. By contrast, Europe's trade was sunk in recession. But with President Clinton heading back across the Atlantic for his third European trip this year, Europe seems back at the center of America's concerns. There are other signs that the fabled tilt to Asia is over: a spate of reshuffles in the senior staff at the State Department and at the National Security Council; a sudden focus on the underlying health of the American-European economic relationship; and a series of hiccups in Clinton's Asian policies. By contrast, President Clinton's welcome at the D-Day ceremonies -- the classic symbol of American commitment to Europe -- was like the comforting embrace of an old friend. And on his return, a new report was published in Washington which laid out the underlying economic strength of the trans-Atlantic relationship. Produced by Robin Gaster of North Atlantic Research Inc. and Clyde Prestowitz of the Economic Strategy Institute, it focused on trade patterns in terms of quality, rather than quantity. The raw figures for trade showed the United States exporting $130 billion in goods and services to Asia in 1993, against $110 billion to Europe. And they showed the United States importing $241 billion from Asia, and only $114 billion from Europe. Not only were trans-Atlantic trade flows balanced, they were also healthier and more productive for both partners. Europe has $250 billion invested in the United States, in companies which in 1993 employed 3 million Americans and paid $20 billion in American taxes. By contrast, Asia's investment of $107 billion in the United States produced fewer than 1 million American jobs and paid only $7 billion in taxes. European-owned firms were far more integrated into the American economy. In 1991, European and Japanese firms operating in the United States each shipped about $41 billion in exports (amounting to 18 percent of all U.S. exports), but while the European firms imported about $60 billion, the Japanese ones imported over $90 billion. "The U.S. economic relationship with Europe is mature, balanced and mutually beneficial. It is the most important bilateral relationship in the world -- bar none," commented Clyde Prestowitz. "The Atlantic countries broadly agree on most of the major issues concerning the organization of the new global economy, from labor rights to investment issues to competition policy. Shaping this global economy will require allies, and many of America's likeliest allies will be found in Europe."