- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2013

President Obama has answered pressures from Europe with a promise to begin talks on free trade with the European Union.

This could be the world’s largest free-trade zone; last year’s trade levels among the two regions tapped $646 billion in 2012, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

“We will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union, because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs,” Mr. Obama said during his State of the Union address Tuesday, AFP reports.

Europe has been pushing the United States to talk free trade for years. The latest push came earlier this month, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a meeting with Vice President Joseph R. Biden, asked for a speedy consideration of a pact, AFP said. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht was just in Washington last week to push the notion, too, AFP reported.

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