Germany eyes mid-2013 for EU-US trade talks
Germany on Wednesday "expressly welcomed" US President Barack Obama's pledge to begin talks on a transatlantic trade deal and said it wanted the groundwork to be laid within months.
"I would like to say on behalf of the federal government that we expressly welcome this clear commitment of President Obama for a transatlantic free trade agreement," Steffen Seibert, the German government spokesman, told a regular briefing.
Berlin believes such an agreement would be "a valuable contribution for more growth and more jobs on both sides of the Atlantic," added Seibert.
"Our expectation is that ... in the course of the Irish (EU) Presidency (which runs until the end of June), the preconditions can be laid down for the beginning of negotiations," added the spokesman.
In his annual State of the Union address, Obama announced the launch of talks with Europe on a free trade deal "because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs."
A free trade pact between the two sides has been envisaged for years, but little real movement has taken place.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this month before meeting US Vice President Joe Biden that she "personally" wanted to see progress towards a deal.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham Germany) estimated in a statement released Wednesday that economic growth in both areas could be boosted by as much as 1.5 percent if a deal were negotiated.
The US-EU trade relationship is currently worth $700 billion annually and provides some 14 million jobs, AmCham Germany said.
© 2013 AFP