By Vicki Needham - 04/10/13 09:15 PM EDT
But in a show of solidarity on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, negotiators vowed to hammer out a deal that would create a $5 trillion trade bloc, which is arguably an avenue toward jobs and economic growth across the United States and 27-nation EU.
Vital Moreira, chairman of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, said that all those involved need to "create the conditions for successful negotiations for this agreement."
A trade deal would mean much more than a free-trade deal, because it would create new rules that are "missing from the global trading scene."
"What is at stake goes very much beyond agriculture and duties," Moreira said during a press conference.
"Let's be very much aware of what is at stake is not going to be easy because differences are there," he said.
"It is all about jobs and growth and it needs to create a framework for future development."
He acknowledged that even though Europe is in a financial crisis, the region is vital to the health of the global economy.
"Europe matters, we are in crisis it's true, but we will overcome it and come out stronger," he said.
"The U.S. is our biggest trading partner, we matter for you, you matter for us."
If negotiators fail to hammer out a deal it will be a missed opportunity and will risk other nations cobbling together trade agreements in a "very fragmented way, at our cost," Moreira said.
Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said there is a strong connection between the United States and the EU that have "deepened with time" and that negotiators need to tackle any remaining issues standing in the way of a trade deal.
He expressed optimism that an agreement would eventually be crafted but suggested that negotiators remain cautious about pegging a completion date.
"Trade agreements never keep their timetable," he said during a press conference.
"We should emphasize the importance of reaching an agreement."
Combined, the U.S. and EU economies are the largest in the world, accounting for 45 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and nearly 40 percent in terms of purchasing power.
They stakeholders did not highlight specific issues they need to tackle but agriculture and the regulatory regimes between the two trading partners clearly stand out.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, called on negotiators to push through the difficult issues because it matters for "our economy, Europe's economy and the global economy."
EU officials canvassed Capitol Hill, meeting with lawmakers to discuss a broad range of issues that are expected to arise during talks.
Overall, negotiators are seeking the elimination of all duties, greater market access for goods and services and better cohesion on regulations.
Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said a trade deal seeks to deepen an already significant trade relationship and should provide an opportunity to boost the economy, exports and jobs in both Europe and the United States.
João Vale de Almeida, the EU's ambassador to the United States, said he is very excited about creating world's largest agreement "among equals."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and more than a dozen of the nation's largest companies have joined together in creating the Business Coalition for Transatlantic Trade (BCTT).
“The vast support that exists for this trade agreement, both in the government and the private sector, underscores that trade is a key driver of growth and job creation for both the U.S. and EU,” said Myron Brilliant, the Chamber’s executive vice president and head of international affairs.
“The business community is committed to assisting with the negotiation of a transatlantic agreement that fosters job creation, growth and investment on both sides of the pond, and we will continue our efforts to encourage both governments to get this deal done quickly.”