Business group urges Biden to lift Europe travel ban, boost economies
The Biden administration is under pressure from a large group of companies and diplomats to abolish the travel ban on Europeans, as mainland investment in the United States has plunged nearly a third of the world. last year.
While European Union countries have reopened their borders to Americans vaccinated or tested negative for Covid-19, the United States has not returned the favor, much to the chagrin of business.
The American Chamber of Commerce on Friday urged Washington to allow the return of European travelers “as soon as possible”.
“The resumption of safe transatlantic travel is of critical importance to our nation’s economic recovery, as face-to-face trade engagements and international tourism will help drive economic growth and job creation for Americans through the country, “said Marjorie Chorlins, senior chamber vice-president for European affairs.
Travelers from the Schengen area, Great Britain and Ireland have been banned from entering the United States since March 2020.
Travelers from South Africa, Brazil, China, India and Iran are also prohibited from entering.
– ‘Interconnected’ –
EU Ambassador to the US Stavros Lambrinidis told AFP that Brussels “pushes” for reciprocity, and underlined the positive impact such a move would have on both economies.
“Our economies and populations are deeply interconnected, and our vaccination rates are the highest in the world – it would be crucial to safely open this side of the Atlantic as well as we both start our economies,” he said. he declared.
During President Joe Biden’s visit to Europe last week, the EU stressed that the bilateral economic relationship is the most important in the world, accounting for 42% of global GDP and global trade in goods and services.
But beyond trade, huge investments are at stake.
– ‘Backbone’ –
“Mutual investment overshadows trade and is the real backbone of the transatlantic economy,” noted a 2021 joint report from the US Chamber, AmCham EU, Johns Hopkins University and the think tank Wilson Center.
Mutual investment “has become essential for jobs and prosperity in the United States and Europe,” he added.
Europe accounted for over 60% of foreign direct investment in the United States in the first three quarters of 2020.
But compared to the same period of the previous year, the continent’s investment plunged to $ 81 billion in 2020 from $ 120 billion in 2019, a decrease of 32.5%.
On Friday, during a visit to France, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed hope that Europeans will soon be able to visit the United States again.
“I hope it will happen quickly. We really want it. I hope it will be a matter of weeks rather than months,” he said on an online forum in fluent French.
But he pointed to the rise of the Delta variant, which first appeared in India and raised new concerns in Western countries.
“We are of course concerned about the Delta variant and are closely monitoring its movement,” noted Lambrinidis.
He stressed that vaccinated people are “well protected” against the variant. Instead of closing borders, he called for speeding up vaccination campaigns, masking and social distancing.
For their part, airlines insist that traveling by plane remains safe.
“Numerous scientific studies have validated that air travel poses a low risk of transmission,” said a United Airlines spokeswoman.
“As the vaccine becomes more widely available, now is the time to implement a reopening strategy to benefit both the economy and the traveling public,” she added.
A sign that United are optimistic about reopening US borders, it recently added flights to destinations in France, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Iceland and Portugal.
Â© 2021 AFP