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US, EU to hold second round of trade talks Nov 11-15

04 November 2013, 17:09 CET
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(WASHINGTON) - The United States and the European Union will hold a second round of trade talks this month to create a massive transatlantic free-trade zone, the two governments announced Monday.

Negotiators for the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will meet over November 11-15 in Brussels to discuss services, investment, energy and raw materials, and regulatory issues.

US and EU teams will conduct negotiations on other issues by video conference throughout November, the US Trade Representative said in a statement.

The second round of negotiations was originally scheduled for October 7-11, but was postponed due to the partial shutdown of the US government over a budget dispute.

"This round of negotiations will now put the TTIP discussion process fully back on track in terms of the planned negotiation timeline," the European Commission, the EU executive, said in a statement.

A negotiating session on public procurement had taken place before the US government shutdown, the two sides said.

The third round of negotiations is scheduled December 16-20 in Washington to create the world's largest free trade area.

TTIP talks started in July after leaders from both sides pledged a deep commitment to completing an agreement by late 2014. Their aim is have proposals ready by January to bridge deep differences over rules and regulations.

At stake are a range of issues, from food and aviation safety, to electric car standards and financial services regulation.

Since the July 8-12 first round of talks in Washington, revelations of alleged US spying on European leaders and others has cast a cloud of mistrust in Europe over the talks.

Intelligence leaks by former US National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden disclosing the NSA had tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone for several years and carried out mass spying in Germany, France and Spain have sparked outrage in Europe.

In late October, a senior EU official said it was urgent that Washington rebuilds trust with Europe, warning transatlantic trade talks were at risk after the revelations.

Viviane Reding, vice president of the European Commission and EU justice commissioner, said the revelations had "shaken and damaged" the relationship, and left Europeans feeling that they "are not seen as partners, but as a threat."

"For ambitious and complex negotiations to succeed there needs to be trust among the negotiating partners. It is urgent and essential that our US partners take clear action to rebuild trust," she said in Washington last week.

The two sides have said they aim to complete the deal before a new European Commission takes office in November 2014.

"I am glad to see our talks are going ahead full speed," the EU ambassador to the US, Joao Vale de Almeida, said Monday. "We are keeping up momentum in our negotiations as we now turn to services, investment, energy, raw materials, and regulatory issues."

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