Promoting and encouraging U.S.-Danish business interests was among my top priorities as U.S. Ambassador to Denmark. Thank you for the opportunity to continue this mission as Chair of the ADBC Honorary Advisory Committee. From my perspective, there is a natural affinity between Danes and Americans. This affinity is important in the context of business and commercial relations.
Any cultural differences between Danish and U.S. companies pale in comparison to our shared values in conducting business. These include, among others, well-established legal systems and respect for law, strict protection of intellectual property, strong anti-corruption law and practices, high standards for safety and health of workers, and policies welcoming foreign direct investment.
I am a stalwart believer that the U.S. offers unparalleled possibilities for Danish companies. This is a large market with constant entrepreneurial drive, allowing for and encouraging continual product development and opportunities new goods and services. Experience in the U.S. market, and relationships built here, may make it easier for Danish companies to move into markets in other parts of the world. Similarly, the U.S. benefits from Danish companies operating here and cross-pollination with Danish business leaders who are clever, collaborative, solution-oriented, and nearly always popular in this country.
On February 20th, I spoke with members of the Danish-American Chamber of Commerce Southwest in Houston, Texas. It was heartening to hear from them how much they value the opportunity to live and do business in the U.S., and that the transition from Denmark to America was smooth. Perhaps Danes are the happiest people even when living in the U.S.! It also was heartwarming to meet U.S. personnel who cherish the experience of working for a Danish company or its U.S. subsidiary.
The U.S. today is Denmark’s third largest partner in the trade of goods and services, accounting for approximately $28 billion annually. The trade balance is in Denmark’s favor as exporter to the U.S. market in life sciences, manufacturing, and shipping sectors, and more recently, clean energy technologies. (Of course, there also are exports of Danish design and fashion, and agriculture products including pork for baby back ribs).
During my tenure as Ambassador, we were particularly focused on developing opportunities for Danish and U.S. companies to collaborate on renewable energy, smart grid, green construction, sustainable transportation, and other high-tech solutions like e-health. In cooperation with the Danish Embassy in Washington, Confederation of Danish Industries, AmCham Denmark, and Danish-American Business Forum, we developed the Green Partnerships initiative. On her visit to Denmark in May 2012, Secretary Clinton joined Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt to kick-off a new public-private phase of the Green Partnerships for Growth network.
Danish and American businesses already operating across the Atlantic understand the importance of networking and sharing experiences. Networks provide key contacts also for smaller and medium size enterprises who want to take their business to a new market and to learn from those who have gone before.
ADBC is an important forum for networking and for promoting policies that increase the market for U.S. and Danish trade, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Lowering barriers to trade between the U.S. and the EU will lead to growth in both markets, increasing exports and direct foreign investment across the Atlantic. TTIP, by bridging the U.S. and EU, offers an unprecedented opportunity to help shape the rules, standards and regulations for the 21st Century global economy. The Honorary Advisory Board and I look forward to working with ADBC on these common goals for Danish-U.S. businesses.
By Laurie Fulton, U.S. Ambassador (Ret.)
February 26, 2014