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July Start Earmarked For EU, US Trade Talks


The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) "could be the biggest bilateral trade deal in history," UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said at the G8 Summit, where it was announced that negotiations will begin next month.

Cameron, who is hosting the Summit as part of the UK's G8 Presidency, told a press conference that the TTIP could boost the European Union (EU) economy by as much as GBP100bn (USD157bn) and the US economy by GBP80bn. If talks are successful, he said, the agreement "will have a greater impact than all the other trade deals on the table put together."

Last week the European Council adopted a mandate for the Commission to launch the talks, stating that it foresees a treaty with three key components. These are: market access, regulatory issues and non-tariff barriers, and rules. The Commission will negotiate on behalf of the EU and its member states, and will keep the European Parliament and its related committees informed of its progress.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said at the time that the negotiations could be a "game changer." Addressing yesterday's press conference, Barroso reiterated this claim and stressed that the Commission intends to "move forward fast."

He anticipates that challenges will include "moving regulatory regimes closer and addressing the harmful effect of behind-the-border trade barriers." Barroso was nonetheless clear that the "current economic climate requires us to join forces and do more with less. More importantly, in doing so, we will remain strong global players who set the standards for the 21st century."

US President Barrack Obama's echoed these points, warning that negotiators must look beyond the politics and sensitivities he expects will arise. They must instead "stay focused on the big picture." He added that the TTIP will be a priority for both him and his administration, and they must "get it right."

The US is seeking greater openness from EU markets, stronger investment rules, the elimination of all tariffs on trade, improved market access for the trade in services, the protection of intellectual property, and a significant reduction in the cost of differences in regulations.

Reacting to the news, David Nunes, who heads up the House of Representatives Trade Subcommittee, said that he looks forward to working with the Obama administration on the TTIP. He will focus in particular "on resolving long-standing barriers to our agriculture exports, including Europe’s opaque and inefficient agriculture regulatory system and its failure to use sound science-based standards."

The G8 Summit concluded on the 19th with a discussion of potential initiatives to crack down on tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.