The EU and the US announced yesterday that they would pursue talks aimed at securing an overarching transatlantic free-trade deal.
According to the 27-country EU, such an agreement, first announced in the State of the Union address by president Obama, would be the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated.
Any agreement could boost economic output in the EU by 0.5 per cent and in the US by 0.7 per cent, according to some estimates. That would be a highly desirable outcome when the EU and the US were both struggling with slow growth, high unemployment and high levels of debt according to commentators.
Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm said both the US and the EU needed to grow and both had budgetary problems.
Barroso, European Council president Herman Van Rompuy and Obama said in a joint statement that they were "committed to making this relationship an even stronger driver of our prosperity".
"Through this negotiation, the United States and the European Union will have the opportunity not only to expand trade and investment across the Atlantic, but also to contribute to the development of global rules that can strengthen the multilateral trading system," they said.