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Everything possible will be covered in the coming US-European Union talks for a free-trade deal announced by President Barack Obama, Washington's top trade negotiator said Wednesday.
Asked if the European side could exclude politically contentious issues like genetically modified organisms or data flows, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the negotiations would be as broad as possible.
"For us, everything is on the table, across all sectors, including across the agricultural sector, whether it is GMOs or other issues," Kirk told reporters Wednesday.
"We should be ambitious and we should deal with all of these issues."
Obama announced late Tuesday in his annual State of the Union address that the US would launch talks with the EU on a pact that would create the world's largest free-trade area, aimed at boosting economic growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
In a joint statement released early Wednesday, Obama, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the two sides would begin procedures necessary to enter negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
"The transatlantic economic relationship is already the world's largest, accounting for half of global economic output and nearly one trillion dollars in goods and services trade, and supporting millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
"The transatlantic economic relationship is already the world's largest, accounting for half of global economic output and nearly one trillion dollars in goods and services trade, and supporting millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic," they said.
"We are committed to making this relationship an even stronger driver of our prosperity."
Kirk stressed the two sides aim to pursue "a very high-standards agreement with ambitious disciplines across a broad range of areas including pressing for full elimination of tariffs."
Aside from goods and services trade, a key area to be included is regulatory barriers to trade and investment.
But the negotiators will also try to cover new areas of conflict over trade and investment, including data flows, the role of state enterprises and initiatives to defend local content over imports.
"We believe that progress in these areas among others would not only help liberalize trade between our two economies but also help strengthen the global trading system," said Kirk.
The US and EU aim for a first-stage deal within 18 months after they get the go-ahead from their respective legislatures.