BYLINE: WILLIAM ARMBRUSTER
Close relations with EU boost export opportunities
Europe is often an afterthought in many trade circles. It shouldn't be. The U.S. relationship with the European Union is a partnership between equals, with enormous amounts of trade and investment that bring substantial economic benefits to people on both sides of the Atlantic.
For example, U.S. merchandise trade last year with the 27 members of the European Union totaled $600 billion, a 47 percent increase over the $409 billion in two-way trans-Atlantic trade in 2003.
Much of that trade is between parent companies and subsidiaries on the other side of the pond. That's largely because of the huge levels of foreign direct investment - an even bigger indicator of economic integration than trade statistics alone would indicate. As of the end of 2006, U.S. companies had invested about $1.1 trillion in the European Union's 27 member states, while EU companies had invested about the same amount in the United States. U.S. companies employ about 7 million people in the EU, while European companies employ about the same number in the U.S.
For example, Siemens, the German …