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EU, US to negotiate free-trade deal from spring 2013: Officials

Published on Oct 17, 2012 7:31 PM

BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Europe and the United States (US) are set to launch trade talks early next year to deepen the world's largest trading relationship, European Union (EU) and US officials say, potentially unleashing billions of euros of new transatlantic business.

Together, the bloc and the US account for about half the world's economic output and nearly a third of world trade. But a debt crisis in Europe and elusive American growth are pushing both sides to consider knocking down the final barriers to trade.

A deal could increase economic output by 122 billion euros (S$194 billion) a year for Europe alone and add 0.52 per cent to the EU's gross domestic product in the long term, according to European Commission (EC) estimates, benefiting industries ranging from chemicals to automakers.

An expert group co-chaired by EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk will in December issue a report recommending pursuing talks, according to EU and US officials.

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