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The European Union and the US will begin formal talks on a free-trade agreement, paving the way for the biggest trade deal in history.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made the announcement following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

A deal would bring down trading barriers between the two biggest economies in the world.

EU-US trade is worth around 455 billion euros ($613 billion) a year.

Barack Obama announced US support for talks as part of his annual address to Congress on Tuesday, saying a free-trade deal would “boost American exports, support American jobs and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia”.

In a joint statement, US and EU leaders said trade between the US and EU supported millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

“We are committed to making this relationship an even stronger driver of our prosperity,” the statement said.

The EU estimates that a “comprehensive and ambitious agreement” will boost annual GDP growth by 0.5%.

It is not clear how long the talks will take, but similar trade deals have involved years of negotiations.

The idea was discussed following the formation of a working group in 2011, and the formal talks may begin in the summer, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said.

He said the deal would focus on bringing down remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade, and standardise technical regulations, standards and certifications.

The European Union and the US will begin formal talks on a free-trade agreement, paving the way for the biggest trade deal in history

The European Union and the US will begin formal talks on a free-trade agreement, paving the way for the biggest trade deal in history

Free trade between the US and the EU has been under informal discussion for years.

Previously politicians have been discouraged from pursuing free trade deals for fear of exposing domestic industries to greater competition from abroad.

But Steve Davies from the Institute of Economic Affairs, a think tank, said the economic crisis in Europe has injected more urgency into the talks.

“It’s happening now because there has been seriously depressed growth in the EU, and this will be good news for economic growth,” he said.

“On the American side, the critical factor is that Obama is now in his second term, so he doesn’t have the protectionist pressures from US businesses to worry about.”

Steve Davies said agriculture was likely to be particular area of contention, along with intellectual property, which could lead to political wranglings on both sides of the Atlantic.

Uniunea Europeana și SUA încep tratativele pentru acordul de liber schimb, care va duce la crearea celui mai mare acord comercial din istorie.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made the announcement following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

A deal would bring down trading barriers between the two biggest economies in the world.

EU-US trade is worth around 455 billion euros ($613 billion) a year.

Barack Obama announced US support for talks as part of his annual address to Congress on Tuesday, saying a free-trade deal would “boost American exports, support American jobs and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia”.

In a joint statement, US and EU leaders said trade between the US and EU supported millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

“We are committed to making this relationship an even stronger driver of our prosperity,” the statement said.

The EU estimates that a “comprehensive and ambitious agreement” will boost annual GDP growth by 0.5%.

It is not clear how long the talks will take, but similar trade deals have involved years of negotiations.

The idea was discussed following the formation of a working group in 2011, and the formal talks may begin in the summer, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said.

He said the deal would focus on bringing down remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade, and standardise technical regulations, standards and certifications.

The European Union and the US will begin formal talks on a free-trade agreement, paving the way for the biggest trade deal in history

The European Union and the US will begin formal talks on a free-trade agreement, paving the way for the biggest trade deal in history

Free trade between the US and the EU has been under informal discussion for years.

Previously politicians have been discouraged from pursuing free trade deals for fear of exposing domestic industries to greater competition from abroad.


But Steve Davies from the Institute of Economic Affairs, a think tank, said the economic crisis in Europe has injected more urgency into the talks.

“It’s happening now because there has been seriously depressed growth in the EU, and this will be good news for economic growth,” he said.

“On the American side, the critical factor is that Obama is now in his second term, so he doesn’t have the protectionist pressures from US businesses to worry about.”

Steve Davies said agriculture was likely to be particular area of contention, along with intellectual property, which could lead to political wranglings on both sides of the Atlantic.

China has agreed to buy 50 planes worth $3.5 billion from Europe’s Airbus.

The agreement is part of a slew of trade deals signed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the start of a two-day visit to China.

An agreement on Airbus plane assembly in China was also signed, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Thursday his country would continue to invest in the EU.

This is the first significant deal in China for Airbus, whose parent company is EADS, since a dispute between the country and the European Union over the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

China has agreed to buy 50 planes worth $3.5 billion from Europe's Airbus

China has agreed to buy 50 planes worth $3.5 billion from Europe's Airbus

Effective from 1 January this year, the ETS charges airlines for the carbon they emit.

China and other countries say the system is not fair, as it charges airlines for the full journey, not just over European airspace.

Following this in March, EADS chief executive Louis Gallois said Airbus was facing “retaliation measures” by China.

According to him, China had blocked firms from buying planes made by Airbus. Beijing did not comment on the allegation.

Angela Merkel is in China for the second time this year, as she tries to improve relations and drum up business for European companies.

She is being accompanied by several ministers, as well as top German executives.

Bilateral trade between Germany and China totalled about $180 billion dollars last year. That is nearly double what it was five years ago.

On Thursday, the two countries signed 10 further agreements, in the sectors of communication, energy, health and maritime co-operation, among others, Xinhua said.