EU, US leaders launch free trade talks at G8 summit

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This is  the “biggest bilateral trade deal in history”. With these words, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Monday the beginning of negotiations of a free trade agreement between the EU and the US.

Speaking in a joint news conference at the G8 Summit in Ireland, world leaders agreed that forging a trade deal will boost growth and create jobs across the Atlantic. According to the Commission,  an EU-US agreement could increase Europe’s GDP by 0.5% annually and help create around 400,000 jobs.

‘We are taking about what could be the biggest bilateral trade deal in history, a deal that will have a greater impact than all the other trade deals on the table put together.
The EU said a deal would add 119bn euros (£100bn; $160bn) to the EU economy and 95bn euros for the US’, said UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

‘There is going be sensitivities on both sides, there is going to be politics on both sides but if we can look beyond the narrow concerns to stay focus on the big picture, the economic and strategic importance of this partnership, I’m hopeful we can achieve the kind of high standard comprehensive agreement that the global trading system is looking to us to develop’, said US President Barak Obama.

The launch came after France fiercely fought to exclude the audiovisual sector from the negotiations. After 13 hours, a compromise was finally reached agreeing to French demands.

Brussels and Washington hope to reach a trade agreement by the end of the Commission’s mandate in October 2014. Many argue, however, that the ambitious timing is unrealistic.

The first round of negotiations will take place in Washington in early July.

‘2 years ago, very few would have bet that today we will be in a position to launch negotiations of an ambitious EU-US free trade agreement. And when the teams of the European commission and United States will meet for the 1st round of negotiations next month it will be the start of a joint undertaking of real strategic importance’, said EC president Jose Manuel Barroso.

Meanwhile, world leaders are also holding a second round of talks to try to bridge their differences over the armed conflict in Syria.

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