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US seeks public comment on proposed EU trade deal

Containers on the Marco Polo, said to be the world's biggest container ship, in Le Havre, France, on December 19, 2012
Containers are see on the Marco Polo, said to be the world's biggest container ship, moored in the port of Le Havre, France, early on December 19, 2012. The United States put its proposed trade partnership with the European Union to the public Monday, mar

The United States put its proposed trade partnership with the European Union to the public Monday, marking another step toward creating the world's largest free-trade area.

The US Trade Representative (USTR) said it was seeking public comments on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, including regarding US interests and priorities, in order to develop US negotiating positions.

Announced by the leaders of the world's largest economy and the 27-nation EU in mid-February, the proposed partnership is aimed at spurring a substantial increase in transatlantic trade and investment to boost economic growth and jobs.

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

On a daily basis, the US and EU trade goods and services worth $2.7 billion (2.1 billion euros), supporting millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, according to the USTR.

In a government filing Monday, the USTR said it would accept written comments from the public through May 10 and hear oral comments on May 29 and 30.

The groundwork for a deal was done by a bilateral, high-level working group that laid out the justification and mapped out the framework for a deal in a report.

The proposed pact would:

- eliminate tariffs on goods trade.

- eliminate or reduce barriers to trade in goods, services and investment.

- harmonize regulations and standards that can hinder transatlantic trade and investment.

- remove or reduce barriers such as government support for state enterprises and preferences for locally produced goods and services.

- tie health issues linked to trade -- like biotechnology, sanitation and genetically modified organisms -- to accepted, science-based standards.

The proposed pact also would adapt to address new challenges to trade and investment flows that arise as the global economy and technology advance, the working group said.

A broader, explicit aim of the pact is that the two sides hope to lay down an outline for fresh impetus to multilateral trade talks, which, like the Doha round of World Trade Organization negotiations, have stalled.

The USTR on March 20 informed Congress that President Barack Obama's administration intended to start the negotiations no earlier than 90 days from the notice, or mid-June.

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