US, EU plan trade talks for February

Top U.S. and European Union trade officials said on Monday that they will meet in February to continue negotiations on massive trade agreement.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael FromanDems push for US, EU cooperation on China's market status US, EU team up on raw minerals trade case against China Ryan leaves open possibility of a vote on Pacific trade deal this year MORE and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom met Monday in Washington to discuss progress on a broad range of issues in the talks over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), while renewing their determination to ink a deal.

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“We talked about next steps in terms of equipping our teams with the tools they need to move forward on the outstanding issues,” Froman said. 

The trade teams will meet in January to set up for the next round of talks in early February, he said Monday during a press conference. 

"The two of us are very much are committed to staying actively involved through regular stock-taking exercises throughout the negotiations," Froman said. 

The meeting was the first sit-down in Washington between Froman and the EU’s new trade negotiator.

Froman said with the new EU Commission in place it is time "to look anew at the outstanding issues and to figure out how best to take them forward."

Malmstrom, a seasoned EU politician from Sweden, said the U.S.-EU deal has enormous potential because of "what it can bring when it comes to jobs and growth, on both sides of the Atlantic, but also the possibilities for us to set global standards and to renew and to reconfirm our strong partnership across the Atlantic as well." 

She described the meetings as a chance to take political stock of where the U.S. and EU stand on the issues and what has happened thus far through several rounds of talks between Washington and Brussels.

“This was a very good meeting, we went through everything, we exchanged new ideas, informally, but very useful to take stock of where we are, possible ways forward,” she said. 

She noted that the deal is a priority for President Obama and European leaders and she wants to work with Froman to give the deal the political push necessary to move forward. 

Malmstrom said she also wants to engage with the outside stakeholders "to try to explain and demystify some elements of this potentially very, very important agreement.”

In addition, she plans to communicate better with the economic group of commissioners "because trade is obviously an economic issue, but also on foreign policy issues, because trade is increasingly a foreign policy tool, so we are working in different ways to engage the whole Commission on a more regular basis."

"They are difficult issues of course, but that we will work together to find a good deal that is good for Americans and Europeans," she said.