March 10 - The United States and the European Union have started a fourth round of negotiations towards the world's biggest free-trade deal. Ciara Sutton looks at their chances of sealing a deal any time soon.
It would encompass almost half the world's economy and potentially generate an extra 100 billion dollars in output on both sides of the Atlantic. The US and the EU are starting a fourth round of negotiations towards the world's biggest free-trade deal. The two already trade around 3 billion dollars in goods and services every day. And with the euro zone economy barely out of a two-year recession, EU governments see the deal as the best way to create jobs. But in the States, President Obama's attempts to speed up the deal have faced resistance from members of his own party, with many sceptical about the benefits of the free trade. BGC's Mike Ingram. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC MARKET STRATEGIST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "It's quite notable that congress has declined to give president Obama fast track authorisation. The issue of free trade actually remains toxic both for republicans and democrats. I actually think it's unlikely there's going to be any tangible progress ahead of mid-terms later on this year." Public support is crucial as the European Parliament and the US Congress must ratify the agreement once it is made. The talks initially enjoyed a warm reception when they were launched last summer. But European consumer and green groups say a deal letting firms operate freely might compromise standards. The talks have also been overshadowed in recent months by widespread distrust of Washington after the US bugged EU offices and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone. .