EU and US negotiators entered into an eighth round
of free trade talks on Monday, amid hope that political reshuffles on
both sides of the Atlantic could help breathe fresh air into the
mammoth consultations, dpa reported.
The week-long negotiations follow the strengthening of Republicans in
US congressional elections and are the first to be attended by
officials of the new European Commission of Jean-Claude Juncker.
The lead negotiators, US Trade Representative Michael Froman and
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, have both spoken of a "fresh
start" in the efforts to form a Transatlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership (TTIP), which have been ongoing since 2013.
The agreement would create the world's largest free trade zone and
would help revive the European Union's flagging economy. But progress
has been slow, amid criticism from consumer groups on both sides of
the Atlantic who fear a watering down of standards.
This week's talks are to focus on regulatory barriers, such as
differences in technical standards and regulations on food and animal
health, an EU official said on condition of anonymity, adding that
the two sides are "very close" to a breakthrough.