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EU, US decide to prepare for launch of FTA talks

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-02-14 02:52

BRUSSELS - The European Union (EU) and the United States (US) had decided to initiate internal procedures to launch negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA), chief of the European Commission said on Wednesday.

"I am glad that following the political decision taken together with President (Barack) Obama in our 2011 Summit in Washington, this is now possible," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said at a press conference.

Barroso hailed the potential EU-U.S. FTA, officially named the "Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership," as "ground-breaking" and said a future deal between the world's two most important economic powers will be a "game-changer."

The EU expects to officially start the FTA negotiations by the end of June during the Irish Presidency of the Council, according to Barroso.

A future deal, which will be a comprehensive agreement going beyond tariffs, by integrating markets and removing barriers, will give a strong boost to our economies on both sides of the Atlantic, he said.

It is estimated that, when this agreement is up and running, the European economy will get a stimulus of half a percent of its GDP, which translates into tens of billions of euros every year and tens of thousands of new jobs, Barroso said.

The negotiations will not be easy, as both sides would have to make their rules and regulations compatible and cut tariffs whenever it makes sense, stressed Barroso.

Echoing Barroso, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said, "This undertaking won't be easy," and expected a time-consuming negotiating process.

"Ideally, we'd like to complete this work in about two years from now, but, more paramount than speed is achieving an ambitious deal," De Gucht said at the same press conference.

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