Wednesday, February 13 07:59:47
Barack Obama has called for talks on a far-reaching free trade agreement with the European Union, throwing his weight behind a deal that would encompass half the world's economic output. The US and the EU already have the largest economic relationship in the world, and one of the most complicated according to RTE News.
"Tonight I am announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs," Mr Obama said in his annual State of the Union speech. A pact would unite the United States, the world's largest economy, with four other countries in the top ten: Germany, France, Britain and Italy. Faced with slow growth on both sides of the Atlantic and rising competition from China and other emerging economies, the long-time allies began looking at ways to build on their existing relationship in late 2011.
Last week, EU leaders endorsed trade talks with the US, putting it at the top of a larger agenda that includes negotiations with Canada and Japan. Two-way goods trade between the US and the EU now totals more than $600 billion annually. Services trade, including sales by majority-owned US or EU companies in each other's market, adds about $1.2 billion. US companies have invested around $1.9 trillion in production, distribution and other operations in the EU, far more than in China or anywhere else in the world. EU companies have invested about $1.6 trillion in the US.