2014 has been a year full of anniversaries. We marked 450 years since the birth of the English language’s greatest playwright – as significant a milestone in the US as in the country of his birth; two hundred years since the Battle of Baltimore – a turning point in the war that convinced the US and UK to be friends; a century since the beginning
of the First World War – a conflict that saw Brits and Americans fight side by side; seventy years since D-Day, when our military relationship reached its apotheosis; and fifty years since Beatlemania swept America, heralding a British Invasion (cultural this time!) that continues to this day.
As usual, I spent much of the year travelling around the United States, seeing first-hand the fruits of yet another peaceful British Invasion – one spearheaded by the many UK businesses whose operations here go from strength to strength. From aerospace in Indianapolis to oilfields in Alaska, I’ve seen British businesses thrive in every sector of
the US economy. On my visit to Detroit in April, its local but British-based manufacturer even gave me a ride on the Quadski, an amphibious sports machine of which James Bond would be proud.
British and American businesses play a vital role in supporting mutual prosperity. Our bilateral trade is worth over $214 billion per year – nearly $400,000 for every minute of every day. We remain, by some distance, each other’s largest foreign direct investors. British businesses have nearly half a trillion dollars invested in the United States. 2014
was also a record year for investment coming the other way, with American companies starting over 500 new projects (up by more than a quarter on the previous year) three fifths of them directly supported by UKTI.
The best part? All of the numbers that matter – trade, investment, jobs supported – are roughly evenly balanced between our two countries.
On a broader level, Britain and America continued in 2014 to stand up for our shared fundamental values of democracy, pluralism and free markets. We argued strongly for coordinated sanctions on Russia for its violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. We are partners in the global campaign to counter the barbarism of IS in the Middle East and we share a commitment to make a success of the current negotiations to achieve a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
2015 will also be packed with transatlantic anniversaries – after all, ours is an extraordinarily rich relationship. One milestone in particular stands out for me. It will be 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. The “great charter” was the foundation stone of a British-American conception of liberty by which we continue to live
today. Now that is a birthday worth celebrating.
Sir Peter Westmacott
HM Ambassador to the United States