Negotiators: First Round of EU-US Talks "Positive"

18 July 2013

The first round of EU-US trade talks came to a close last Friday in Washington, with both sides reporting "positive" results. The discussions came as the two trading partners continue their efforts to resolve a diplomatic row stemming from reports that Washington has spied on its European partners in the past.

Last week's meeting reportedly dealt less with substantive trade issues and more on how the talks should be structured, along with finding any early areas of convergence. Trade observers warn that, while this first round was "productive," future rounds could prove more complicated as both sides take on trickier issues, such as whether to include financial services - which some EU officials have said is a "must - and France's insistence on keeping the EU "cultural exception" policy.

The negotiations are scheduled to run on a tight timeline, with leaders from both sides wanting to ink the agreement before the 2014 congressional midterm elections in the US and the end of the current European Commission's term that same year. The second round of negotiations is due to begin this October in Brussels.

The proposed agreement, known formally as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), seeks to remove restrictions on trade through reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers, with the goal of boosting economic growth and creating jobs. A European Commission study has suggested that the deal, once completed, could add €119 billion and €95 billion annually to the EU and US economies, respectively.

ICTSD reporting; "US-EU Trade Talks make headway under tight timeline," AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, 13 July 2013; "US, EU negotiators say trade talks off to a good start," REUTERS, 12 July 2013.

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