EU set to push for free-trade pact with US to ease crises

 

European leaders today agreed to push for a free-trade pact with the United States, according to a draft joint statement, putting the onus on the White House to respond to a plan that would involve half the world’s economic output.

Britain and Germany have won support from the rest of the European Union at a summit in Brussels to reach a deal with Washington that leaders hope will help to pull Europe out of its banking and debt crises.

“All efforts should be devoted to pursuing agreements with key partners,” EU leaders said, putting the US at the top of a long list including Japan and Canada. The EU leaders’ statement raises expectations that President Barack Obama may endorse the initiative next Tuesday in his annual State of the Union speech.

Obama and EU leaders asked their trade chiefs in 2011 to look at whether it was feasible to agree a deal to further integrate the blocs.

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