EU, US Aim to Agree Free-Trade Deal in 2 Years
European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht during a joint press conference with EC President Jose Manuel Barroso (not pictured) on a major transatlantic trade initiative, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. Phoyo by EPA/BGNES
The US and European Union hope to complete talks on a multi-trillion dollar free-trade pact to boost economic growth in about two years.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said the EU and the US would strive to open negotiations by the end of June.
"This undertaking won't be easy. Ideally, we'd like to complete this work in about two years from now," De Gucht said.
De Gucht said the deal would center on dismantling any remaining trade tariffs while tackling regulatory and certification barriers.
President Barack Obama and EU leaders are hoping agreement to reduce trade barriers will support millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
If finalized, the deal -- dubbed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership -- would be the biggest bilateral trade agreement in history.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made the announcement on Tuesday following President Barack Obama's State of the Union address a day earlier.
Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso described the pact as a "game changer" and said it "is a boost to our economies that does not cost a cent of taxpayer money."
A deal would bring down trading barriers between the two biggest economies in the world.
EU-US trade is worth around EUR 455 B a year.
Obama announced US support for talks as part of his annual address to Congress on Tuesday, saying a free-trade deal would "boost American exports, support American jobs and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia".
He said of the partnership: "Trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs."
"It is our generation's task, then, to reignite the true engine of America's economic growth -- a rising, thriving middle class."
In a joint statement, US and EU leaders said trade between the US and EU supported millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
"We are committed to making this relationship an even stronger driver of our prosperity," the statement said.
The EU estimates that a "comprehensive and ambitious agreement" will boost annual GDP growth by 0.5%.
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