* EU trade commissioner sees talks starting early 2013
* Deal could lift growth on both sides of the Atlantic
By Robin Emmott
BRUSSELS, Nov 7 President Barack Obama's
re-election opens the way for the United States and Europe to
launch trade talks early next year, the EU's trade chief said on
The world's largest trading relationship already accounts
for nearly a third of global trade, but weak growth prospects
are pushing Brussels and Washington to consider a deal to reduce
barriers to companies and unleash new sales and investments.
A group co-chaired by European Union Trade Commissioner
Karel De Gucht and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will issue
a report in December recommending talks, EU and U.S. officials
told Reuters in October.
De Gucht said Obama's re-election cemented that.
"I am confident this report will allow President Obama and
(EU officials) Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso to
provide a green light early next year to launch negotiations
towards a transatlantic trade agreement," De Gucht told Reuters
in an emailed statement.
De Gucht, who handles trade issues for the 27-country EU,
said he expected a "roadmap for future negotiations" that would
seek to cut red tape "to unlock the unparalleled potential of
the transatlantic market".
A deal could increase economic output by 122 billion euros
($156 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.
Transatlantic trade in goods and services is worth $700
billion a year and total U.S. annual investment in the European
Union is higher than in all of Asia. EU investment in the United
States far outstrips EU investment in India and China combined.
A free-trade pact would be the most ambitious in a new
generation of sophisticated agreements that go beyond tariffs to
take in intellectual property rights, services and regulation.
For example, a car tested for safety in the United States
could be sold in Europe without further tests, while a drug
deemed safe by Brussels would not have to be approved as well by
the U.S. government, cutting costs for exporters.
"This is not a contentious deal like often difficult trade
talks with Asia and Latin America," said an EU diplomat involved
in trade issues and who has received visits from U.S. companies
who favour a trade accord. "There's broad support, even if it is
not a foregone conclusion."