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Obama notifies Congress of US-EU trade talks

US President Barack Obama speaks in Jerusalem on March 20, 2013
US President Barack Obama speaks in Jerusalem on March 20, 2013. Obama notified Congress Wednesday that it would launch trade talks with the European Union aimed at forging the world's largest free-trade area.

President Barack Obama notified Congress Wednesday that it would launch trade talks with the European Union aimed at forging the world's largest free-trade area.

The Obama administration intends to launch negotiations with the EU "no earlier than 90 days" after the notification, Demetrios Marantis, the acting US Trade Representative (USTR), said in a letter to Congress.

The official notification to Congress followed announcements last month by Obama and EU leaders of their plan to negotiate the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

The proposed effort "reflects the broadly shared conviction that transatlantic trade and investment can be an even stronger driver of mutual job creation, growth, and increased competitiveness," Marantis said in the letter to House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner.

"With average US and EU tariffs already quite low, new and innovative approaches to reducing the adverse impact on transatlantic commerce of non-tariff barriers must be a significant focus of the negotiations."

The economic relationship between the US and EU is the world's largest, representing nearly half of global output of goods and services and 30 percent of global trade.

The trade and investment ties support 13 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, according to the USTR.

"The support for a comprehensive agreement that has been offered by a significant and diverse set of stakeholders boosts our confidence that it will be possible to find mutually acceptable solutions on difficult issues and conclude an agreement that will benefit US workers," Marantis said.

He pledged that the Obama administration would work closely with Congress to develop US objectives and proposals for the negotiations.

The US Chamber of Commerce, the world's biggest business association, welcomed the Obama administration's move.

"Substantial support from the business community and members of Congress already exists for the proposed negotiation, and we will work hard to broaden that support in the coming months," Myron Brilliant, the Chamber's vice president for international affairs, said in a statement.

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