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Cameron: 'no exceptions' in US-EU free trade talks

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(WASHINGTON) - British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that all subjects and products should be up for discussion in coming negotiations on the proposed US-EU free trade area.

Speaking at the White House after talks with US President Barack Obama, Cameron said there is a "real chance" that the negotiations could be launched in earnest by next month's Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland.

However, he said, talks for the ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership have to cover all subjects -- a message to other participants that are already insisting on excluding certain sensitive areas.

"President Obama and I have both championed a free trade deal between the European Union and the United States," Cameron said in a news conference, with Obama at his side.

The two sides need to seize opportunities together "to secure a sustainable economic recovery," he said.

"To realize the huge benefits this deal could bring would take ambition and political will. That means everything on the table, even the difficult issues and no exceptions."

Cameron suggested that the groundwork for formal talks could be ready by the June 17-18 meeting of G8 leaders.

"When we meet on the shores in Northern Ireland five weeks from today, I want us to agree ambitious action for economic growth," with "open trade at the heart of this," he said.

"So the next five weeks are crucial."

Obama did not mention the issue of exclusions, but agreed it was important to move toward negotiations.

"I believe we have a good opportunity to cut tariffs, open markets, create jobs and make all of our economies even more competitive," he said.

Announced in mid-February, the proposed trade and investment treaty is aimed at spurring economic growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

It was also advocated as an alternative to the stagnated Doha round talks for a new global trade deal under the World Trade Organization.

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 -- worth $2.7 billion worth every day.

A transatlantic free trade deal could be worth up to $10 billion pounds ($15.5 billion) to the British economy annually, Cameron said.

But European authorities have already stressed the need to exclude certain areas from the deal.

European Union Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said last month that policies that help protect European culture and media from the Hollywood juggernaut would not be part of the talks.

"Europe will not put its cultural exception at risk through trade negotiations," De Gucht said.

French Trade Minister Nicole Bricq said in April as well that the European Union should exclude defense from the talks, because the US defense sector is "tightly closed" to outside suppliers.

And the United States and EU are also already sparring over the sensitive subject of genetically modified crops and the food products that include them -- which the US exports but the EU tightly restricts.

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