BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON - Europe and the United States are set to launch trade talks early next year to deepen the world's largest trading relationship, EU and US officials say, potentially unleashing billions of euros of new transatlantic business.
Together, the bloc and the United States 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 ($158 billion) a year for Europe alone and add 0.52 percent to the EU's gross domestic product in the long term, according to European Commission 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, EU and US officials say.