BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The United States and the European Union will next week hold a second round of negotiations towards the world’s biggest free-trade deal and seek to catch up ground lost to last month’s U.S. government shutdown.
The week-long talks, which were originally scheduled for early October but then postponed due to the 16-day shutdown, will run from Monday, November 11, in Brussels, the European Commission said in a statement.
“This round of negotiations will now put the TTIP discussion process fully back on track in terms of the planned negotiation timeline,” the EU executive said, referring to the talks towards a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
EU and U.S. officials are eager to agree a deal by the end of 2014 to create a market of 800 million people encompassing half the world’s economy, but negotiations have got off to a difficult start.
The two sides launched talks in July, but they were immediately overshadowed by U.S. spying reports made public by fugitive former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.
The October talks were then scrapped by the U.S. government’s partial shutdown because of deep political divisions in Washington over budgets.
Negotiators hope now to get down to nitty gritty issues such as how to make it easier for companies to do business on both sides of the Atlantic, free up trading in farm products and integrate EU and U.S. markets.
Reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by Philip Blenkinsop