Secretary of State John Kerry pledged to accelerate momentum for a “comprehensive” trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union, saying it would create jobs and wrest Europe out of its economic woes.
During a trip to Berlin as part of a European tour, Kerry extended President Barack Obama’s promise earlier this month to seek an agreement during his second term. He said he’d discuss with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle how to speed up preparations toward a pact “seriously and rapidly.”
“We want to see even more trade and investment that will create jobs, jobs for Germans, jobs for Americans, jobs for all Europeans,” Kerry told reporters today alongside Westerwelle. A new pact will “help to lift the European economy at a time that it obviously needs it,” he said.
European leaders have latched onto Obama’s State of the Union pledge as the EU aims to complete trade talks with the U.S. within two years. The 27-member bloc, buffeted by the three-year-old euro crisis, has cited lower tariffs, eased regulation and expanded investment across the Atlantic.
Westerwelle, who has pointed at a deal with the U.S. as realistic by the end of Obama’s second term, said the two sides had a “window of opportunity” to lock in a pact that will foster growth without accruing debt.
“We agree that a trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement now has to move forward -- we mean it seriously,” Westerwelle said.
The EU and U.S. have been at odds over issues such as farm subsidies, health protections and regulatory standards. Trade and investment between the two was valued at $4.5 trillion in 2011.
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