ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland -- Talks on a sweeping trade deal between the European Union and the United States, the world's two largest trading partners, are to get underway in Washington next month, President Barack Obama and top European Union officials said Monday.
"The EU-U.S. relationship is the biggest in the world," Obama said after meeting with European leaders at the G-8 summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, citing roughly the $1 trillion in trade in goods and services between the two every year.
"This potentially ground-breaking partnership would deepen those ties."
The head of the EU's executive arm, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, said a deal could bring "huge economic benefits" to both sides. Summit host British Prime Minister David Cameron said the trade pact could create 2 million jobs and "could be the biggest bilateral trade deal in history."
The aim of the trans-Atlantic deal would be to promote economic growth by eliminating the import tariffs and changing regulations that keep goods made on one side of the Atlantic from being sold on the other.
When the start of negotiations were first announced by Obama in his State of the Union address in March, it was estimated that a deal could boost each economy by more than a half-percentage point annually and significantly lower the cost of goods and services for consumers.
Officials have said a deal could be reached next year. But securing one will be tricky. The talks will be watched warily by interest groups and would have to be approved by each side's lawmakers and leaders before the new trade arrangements take effect.
The EU has already yielded to pressure. When it was putting together its mandate for the negotiations last week, France managed to get state assistance of the TV and movie industries taken off the table. Barroso said the issue could be revisited later. Meanwhile, U.S. labor officials have also expressed skepticism.