August Miller, Deseret Morning News
The EU supplies 87 percent of foreign investment in Utah, EU Ambassador John Bruton said.

The security of Europe was a top priority for the United States during the Soviet era, but America's priorities have since gone elsewhere, prompting the European Union ambassador to the United States to make a direct plea: Don't forget about Europe.

Ambassador John Bruton made a three-day visit to Utah this week to hand-carry this message and promote trade relations.

"The European Union is the single largest economic body in the world. EU member states account for 40 percent of all global trade — including considerable trade with Utah," says a written statement he is circulating here.

Bruton told the Deseret Morning News' editorial board Thursday that Utah has very practical reasons to be interested in the vitality of the European Union, which supplies 87 percent of foreign investment in Utah. Utah exports three times the quantity of goods to the European Union than it sends to China, Japan, Korea and India combined, he said.

"It is easy for Americans to under-appreciate the value of the partnership the United States and the European Union have built over many decades and overestimate potential opportunities in emerging economies, such as China," he said. "But at a time when America's attention is increasingly turning toward Asia, it is important to keep in mind that the $4 trillion economic relationship between the European Union and the United States is the largest, most profitable, most integrated and longest lasting in the history of humankind. It is also the most important driver of global economic growth, trade and prosperity."

Despite the war in Iraq, which many Europeans consider one of the "new challenges" in Europe's relationship with the United States, Bruton said he believes many in Europe understand the United States can't just walk away from Iraq and that the economic and military attention there will continue for some time. A current focus on President Bush as the promoter of a war unpopular with Europeans is tempered by the belief that Bush has tried to bring more attention back to America's European allies.

"Bush has made substantial efforts to reach out to Europe. I think when history is written, people will see that in better perspective," Bruton said.

Bruton's Utah visit is packed with an ambitious speaking schedule that includes lectures at Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Utah International Trade and Diplomacy Office and the World Trade Center of Utah. He is also scheduled to meet with Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Bruton was Ireland's prime minister from 1994-97 and has been in his current post since December 2004.

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