U.S. and EU negotiators concluded Friday their first round of talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), laying out a framework for future discussions.
Analysts believe that a successful outcome will not only inject momentum into the two hefty economies, but also help them get a bigger say in future international trade rule-making.
However, analysts caution that due to a series of obstacles, it would not be easy for the two sides to create what would become the world's largest free trade area.
The end of the first round of talks was an important step for the whole negotiation, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said.
EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero said both sides believe the TTIP could bring changes in market access, supervision and harmonization and rule-making.
Analysts say the reason the two sides are enthusiastic about the TTIP is that they will apparently benefit from the negotiation results.
According to a European Commission study, the deal could add about 119 billion euros (155 billion U.S. dollars) annually to the EU economy and 95 billion euros (124 billion dollars) to the U.S. economy.
Furthermore, through the TTIP, the United States and the EU could take the lead role in future international trade rule-making, against the backdrop of the rise of emerging economies, analysts say.
When announcing the launch of the TTIP negotiations, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said "it is a powerful demonstration of our determination to shape an open and rules-based world."
The EU and the United States could strengthen their negotiating power and take the initiative in rule-making through the TTIP, and the rules and standards set by them could be extended globally, a senior diplomat with China's EU mission told Xinhua.
A researcher with the German Council on Foreign Relations has also noted that the TTIP could be an experimental plot for the two economies to test regulations they initiated but have not yet implemented in a broader scope.
Meanwhile, despite their high hopes for a final accord, the TTIP talks between the two sides, which would have to face a series of constraints, are destined to be bumpy.
Jeffrey Schott, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said the task of the first round of talks would be for the two sides to set the agenda so as to reach their agreements in less controversial areas and leave the really tough ones for future discussions.
Tariffs stand out among those tricky topics, Schott said, adding that cutting tariffs was highly sensitive and politically difficult.
According to figures from the World Trade Organization, the average tariff rate for agricultural products between the EU and the United States is 18 percent, even though their overall custom duties are relatively low.
It is also a difficult job to handle non-tariff barriers. Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of the European Center for International Political Economy, said the subject of market access for agricultural products alone would lead to stalemate.
Furthermore, it is also quite a challenge for the EU to coordinate the positions of its 27 members and for the United States to bring its 50 states together.
The director said the EU wanted Washington to open its finance and transportation infrastructure sectors, yet these were under state-level jurisdiction, and it was hard to imagine all U.S. states on the same page.