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Europe and US free-trade talks set for July

Europe and US free-trade talks set for July
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How to get the global economy growing again is a priority at the G8 summit.

One way to do that is with the world’s biggest trade agreement – between Europe and the United States.

It would cut red tape, bring down tariffs and synchronise US and European regulations lowering the cost of doing transatlantic business, particularly for smaller firms.

The first round of negotiations will take place in Washington on July 8, the White House said in a statement.

Companies on both sides would like an agreement in which a car that had been safety tested in the United States would not have to be tested again in Europe, and a drug deemed safe by Brussels would not have to be approved as well by the US government.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters: “Integrating two of the most developed, most sophisticated and certainly the largest economies in the world can never be an easy task, but we will find convincing answers to legitimate concerns, we will find solutions to thorny issues, we will keep our eyes on the prize and we will succeed.”

But Barroso was blunt about a possible stumbling block to the trade deal; that is media protection and what is known as the “cultural exception”

In an interview with the International Herald Tribune he said it was “reactionary” and part of an anti-globalisation agenda to try to exclude Europe’s film and television industries and online entertainment from competition from Hollywood and Silicon Valley, which is what the French have insisted on, though Barroso did not actually name France in his comments.

The French President, Francois Hollande, arriving at the G8 summit, said he “didn’t want to believe that the President of the European Commission could make such a statement about France​​.”

Barroso’s spokesman said the comments were aimed at critics of the Commission’s liberal stance, not the French government .

EU negotiators fear Washington will use the issue to refuse to lift trade barriers in other sectors.

President Barack Obama also warned against narrowing the scope of
negotiations. “It is important that we get it right and that means resisting the temptation to downsize our ambitions or avoid tough issues just for the sake of getting a deal,” he said.

The United States and the European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-nation European Union, hope for a free-trade deal by the end of 2014. That is a tight deadline in complex international trade talks which usually take many years.