The trade talks aim to improve trade relations between the two powerhouses in an effort to remain competitive on a global basis, particularly in view of growing pressures from Asian traders. US and EU negotiators say they hope to reach deals on regulatory rules that limit trade in food during the two day talks, which begin in Washington tomorrow. Those regulatory rules have hampered the free flow of trade between the EU and the US, as well as creating loop-holes that mean sub-standard products from Asia, and particularly China, can enter the two markets. "We need to make sure we work together to compete better with Asia," C Boyden Gray, the US ambassador to the EU said in a press conference ahead of the talks. As well as focusing on regulatory barriers, the talks will focus on protecting intellectual property rights, ensuring secure trade, integrating financial markets, promoting innovation and technology and encouraging investment. Currently the US and the EU have by far the richest trade relationship in the world, fostering trade that was valued at $675bn during the course of 2006. Many general barriers exist, such as differing accounting standards. "Enhancing our economic co-operation is of the utmost importance for both of us and should especially be aimed at reducing unnecessary administrative and regulatory burdens for businesses and in the long term consumers," said TEC vice president Günter Verheugen.
The first meeting of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) takes place in Washington this week, with the freeing up of the food trade on the cards.