WASHINGTON – The United States and European Union are set to negotiate an ambitious Transatlantic free-trade deal by the summer.

The White House issued a joint statement from President Barack Obama, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso announcing the launch of negotiations. The decision to initiate trade talks was based on recommendations by the US-EU High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth was co-chaired by US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.

“The transatlantic economic relationship is already the world’s largest, accounting for half of global economic output and nearly one trillion dollars in goods and services trade, and supporting millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic,” they said. “We are committed to making this relationship an even stronger driver of our prosperity.

“In that regard, we welcome the High Level Working Group’s recommendations on how we can expand further our transatlantic trade and investment partnership, promoting greater growth and supporting more jobs.”

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would:

• further open markets and expand the $459 billion in US goods and services exported to the EU;
• strengthen rules-based investment;
• address non-tariff trade barriers;
• promote greater transparency, compatibility and cooperation regarding regulations and standards; and
• develop rules and principles on issues of global concern.

“I welcome President Obama’s decision with the leaders of the European Union to pursue an ambitious, high-standard Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” Ambassador Kirk said. “The significant economic benefits foreseen in the work of the US-EU High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth include new jobs, economic growth and international competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic.

“It will be a great endeavor for the United States to work with partners in the European Union — with guidance from our stakeholders and Members of Congress — to strengthen our historic partnership.”