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U.S., EU close first round of trade talks, setting framework


15:55, July 13, 2013

WASHINGTON, July 12 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. and EU trade negotiators concluded their first round talks of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) here on Friday, laying out a framework for future discussion.

Working throughout the week, the negotiating groups set out approaches and ambitions in as many as 20 areas that the TTIP is set to cover. "We had a substantive round of talks on the full range of topics that we intend to cover in this agreement," said chief EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero coming out of the talks.

The discussion covered market access for agricultural and industrial goods, government procurement, investment, energy and raw materials, regulatory issues, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, services, intellectual property rights, sustainable development, small- and medium-sized enterprises, dispute settlement, competition, customs/trade facilitation, and state- owned enterprises, according to an EU statement.

"During the meetings, each side presented to the other its ideas on how to proceed, how various chapters might be addressed, and how specific issues might be dealt with in an agreement," said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in a statement at the conclusion of the trade talks.

But given the size and complexity of the negotiation, no breakthroughs are expected to come until the very end in the process.

"We are very interested in moving expeditiously in this negotiation, so we're going to move quickly, but we're also going to move carefully," chief U.S. negotiator Dan Mullaney said at a joint news conference. "It's important to us that we arrive at a deal quickly, but it's even more important that we get the agreement right."

In the middle of the week, the negotiators on both sides also met with about 350 stakeholders from academia, trade unions, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations.

The next round of meetings will take place in Brussels during the week of Oct. 7.

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