"This delay is not fatal, but if the U.S. shutdown drags on and you are taking things off the table like culture and financial services, it is not a good way to start," Stuart Eizenstat, a former U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told Reuters.
West Virginia's exports have grown at a stellar pace in recent years, with European trade accounting for more than a third of those exports. The new pact could continue growth, according to the trade analysis prepared by Bertelsmann.
Analysts forecast the trading block would grow West Virginia exports by an additional 6.6 percent, resulting in the creation of 4,200 new jobs.
The chemicals sector would see an additional $320 million in exports, with transportation equipment and metals products also growing by more about $117 million a year, the study said.
However, the shutdown casts doubt as to whether negotiators will be able to finish negotiations on schedule.
Sutton said European Union negotiators would like to see an agreement before their current governing mandate expires at the end of 2014. U.S. negotiators would like to have the deal completed and confirmed by Congress by the end of 2016, before President Barack Obama leaves office.
"Time is of the essence," Sutton said. "Such an ambitious agreement requires a great deal of political will to keep the momentum going."
Let's hope our political ills don't stifle that will to press on.