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.)