WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- The United States and the European Union issued a joint announcement on Wednesday that they would initiate the internal procedures necessary to launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
"Through this negotiation, the United States and the European Union will have the opportunity not only to expand trade and investment across the Atlantic, but also to contribute to the development of global rules that can strengthen the multilateral trading system," the U.S. and EU leaders said in a statement.
The U.S. and the EU already have the largest economic relationship in the world, accounting for half of global economic output and 30 percent of world trade. In addition, the U.S. and the EU maintain a total of 4 trillion dollars in investment in each other's economies.
"A high-standard Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would advance trade and investment liberalization and address regulatory and other non-tariff barriers," the statement noted.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk hailed the coming talks, saying "it will be a great endeavor for the United States to work with partners in the European Union with guidance from our stakeholders and Members of Congress to strengthen our historic partnership".
The U.S. and the EU leaders tasked the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth with identifying policies and measures to increase bilateral trade and investment at the November 2011 U.S.-EU summit. The Working Group issued a final report on Feb. 11, 2013 to recommend both sides of the Atlantic to launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
U.S. President Obama announced that decision in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night, suggesting that international trade was also a key theme of his second-term agenda.