By Vicki Needham - 03/21/13 12:46 AM EDT
The White House said it will hold regular talks with Congress about all components of a possible agreement. President Obama announced during his February State of the Union address that the two trading partners would seek a more significant agreement.
"A robust trade agenda means better paying jobs for American workers," said House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.).
"To fully realize the potential benefits of a trans-Atlantic agreement, we will have to tackle many difficult behind-the-border barriers," he said.
"Tackling these barriers requires the administration to engage with Congress to establish clear and effective negotiating objectives."
National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) President Bill Reinsch said the talks have the "potential to advance and further strengthen our trade and investment ties."
"The trans-Atlantic commercial relationship is already the most economically significant and integrated in the world, and a comprehensive agreement would help to ensure the growth of U.S. goods and services exports, as well as the creation of American jobs.”
Last year, U.S. exports to Europe totaled $458 billion supporting more than 2.2 million jobs here, according to USTR.
“Although both sides acknowledge the great potential and importance of this agreement, the issues that divide us are not new. Particularly with respect to standards and regulations, past efforts to harmonize our differences have not been successful,” Reinsch said.
"However, this new attempt reflects the realization that together the EU and United States can best meet the new competitive challenges in the trading system by working together. Hopefully that will provide the momentum to successfully conclude this effort.”
Business groups have expressed their support for the negotiations and an eventual trade deal.
"Substantial support from the business community and members of Congress already exists for the proposed negotiation, and we will work hard to broaden that support in the coming months," said Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's executive vice president for international affairs.
"We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to ensure that, once begun, the negotiations swiftly lead to a comprehensive and ambitious agreement that yields meaningful outcomes to generate jobs and economic growth.”
Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerRubio: 'Maybe' would run for Senate seat if 'good friend' wasn't McConnell-allied group: We'll back Rubio if he runs for reelection The Trail 2016: Interleague play MORE (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the negotiations have an "enormous strategic economic implications for our country, and while these talks present great negotiating challenges, a positive agreement can help advance economic growth and Western values for a generation."
Ways and Means Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Mich.) said negotiators will have to reconcile Europe's trade barriers including different auto regulations and restrictions on U.S. agricultural products.
"These negotiations provide a rare opportunity to expand U.S. exports of goods and services by eliminating tariff and, especially, non-tariff barriers in Europe, our second largest export market after Canada," Levin said.
"Just as important, an effective trans-Atlantic trade agreement between two of the largest trading partners in the world would help to establish new rules and a new framework for global trade, promoting a market-based economic model.
"That model can serve as a viable alternative to the disturbing trend emerging in some countries toward greater state control over trade flows and greater support for state-owned and state-controlled enterprises.”
The economic relationship between the United States and the EU is the world's largest, representing nearly half of global output of goods and services that is expected to lead to a $5 trillion trade alliance.
"With average US and EU tariffs already quite low, new and innovative approaches to reducing the adverse impact on transatlantic commerce of non-tariff barriers must be a significant focus of the negotiations," Marantis said.