Progress has been made on core parts of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States, namely market access, regulatory aspects and rules, the EU said Friday in a statement.
The statement was issued after the two sides concluded their third round of week-long negotiations for TTIP in Washington the same day.
On market access, the EU repeated its determination to stay ambitious on all three aspects, the statement said.
The EU wants to slash customs tariffs on imported goods, allow firms from either side to bid for government procurement contracts, and open up services markets and make it easier to invest.
The EU said negotiators also had "substantive" discussions on regulations which protect people from risks to their health, safety, environment, financial and data security.
Studies suggest up to 80 percent of the gains from any future EU-U.S. trade deal would come from improvements in the area, the statement said.
EU negotiators now expect to start working with their U.S. counterparts by March 2014 on the wording of provisions designed to make it easier to comply with each other's existing rules, and to enable regulators to work together more closely in future when drafting rules.
Negotiators also expect to be able to identify a roadmap of areas where the TTIP could bring real savings to consumers and businesses by avoiding having to pay twice over to meet two sets of regulations.
On regulatory issues, EU chief negotiator Garcia Bercero pointed out that: "TTIP is not and will not be a deregulation agenda."
He said neither side intended to lower its high standards of consumer, environment, health, labor or data protection, or limit its autonomy in setting regulations.
Moreover, negotiators from both sides discussed trade-related rules in several areas, which could provide a real boost to EU-U.S. trade.
The EU-U.S. TTIP aims to open up trade and investment between the two sides, which together make up 40 percent of global economic output. The TTIP is expected to result in more jobs and more growth and to help lift Europe out of the economic crisis.