High level trade talks with EU to begin

Feb. 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- High ranking U.S. and European officials said they were ready to open negotiations on economic cooperation covering trade, partnerships and regulations.

A joint statement released Thursday on behalf of President Barack Obama, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, said negotiations would begin to find ways to enhance and expand on what is already the world's largest economic relationship. "The transatlantic economic relationship is already the world's largest, accounting for half of global economic output and nearly $1 trillion in goods and services trade, and supporting millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic," the statement said.

Negotiations referred to as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union would be led by U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk and European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.

The aim of the talks would be to "further open markets to grow the $459 billion in U.S. goods and services exports to the EU ... strengthen rules-based investment to grow the world's largest investment relationship ... (and) tackle costly 'behind the border' non-tariff barriers that impede the flow of goods and services trade," the U.S. Trade Representative's office said.

The talks will also aim to increase transparency concerning regulations and to close regulatory gaps, matching up trade rules among trading partners to expand opportunities.

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