US, EU Start Shopping for Massive Free Trade Deal

Hope to start talks by June, but big issues could loom
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2013 11:36 AM CST
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso addresses the media, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels today.   (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)
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(Newser) – The United States has 20 free trade pacts ranging from big neighbors to tiny allies, but today Washington set its sights on a far grander prize: the entire European Union, reports Reuters. The two powers announced that they hoped to start talks on a free trade deal by the end of June—a massive venture that could boost US exports to the EU by $87.6 billion annually and EU trade to the United States by $115.8 billion, according to a joint US-EU report.

"These negotiations will set a standard, not only for our future bilateral trade and investment, including regulatory issues, but also for the development of global trade rules," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. However, others point out that tariffs between the EU and America are already low, around 4% on average, and that big differences loom with agriculture, copyrights, and other issues. Talks will begin when and if both bodies can get the go-ahead from the US Congress and the EU's member states, and could reach an agreement within two years. (Read more free trade stories.)

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