- POSTED: 30 Sep 2013 23:59
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Top European Union and United States officials leading talks to clinch the world's largest trade deal hope to have proposals ready by January to end deep differences over rules and regulations.
BRUSSELS: Top European Union and United States officials leading talks to clinch the world's largest trade deal hope to have proposals ready by January to end deep differences over rules and regulations.
Differences on norms set for anything from food and aviation safety, to standards for electric cars or the regulation of financial services, stand in the way of efforts to strike an ambitious transatlantic deal creating the world's largest free trade area.
EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said Monday after meeting his US counterpart Trade Representative Michael Froman that both sides wanted "a commonly agreed outline of the regulatory and rules component ... for political review in January."
"On that basis, the political guidance can be given to try to make a maximum of progress throughout next year," he added in a statement.
A first round of talks in efforts to seal the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) took place in Washington in July, with a second round due in Brussels next week and a third round to be held in December.
A TTIP deal would remove bureaucratic, regulatory and protectionist barriers to enable more open trade and investment in an area involving 820 million people
In separate statements at a conference, Froman said that "the greatest opportunity and challenge of TTIP is in the area of regulations and standards."
"Addressing the many regulations and standards will not be easy," he added, as "with TTIP we are trying to bridge two well-regulated systems."
Both officials stressed separately however that bridging these obstacles could help shape fresh global trade rules.
While no timeframe has been set to reach a deal, there is pressure on both sides to make significant progress by late next year before a new European Commission takes office in November 2014.
Asked about a deadline, Froman said "our intention is to work as fast as we can", adding that there can be "no artificial timetable. The substance will dictate the timetable.