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In State of the Union, Obama calls for free-trade pacts of historic scope

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With two of the world’s dominant economic powers trading based on streamlined and common rules and standards, other economies seeking to take part in the expanding global trading system would find it in their interest to adopt the same or at last similar rules and standards, trade experts say.

"The transatlantic relationship is so intertwined with the global economy that any amount of streamlining of standards and regulatory convergence is going to increase economic growth globally,” says Charles Dittrich, vice president for regional foreign trade initiatives at the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) in Washington. “Such a high level of cooperation and convergence between the US and the EU has the potential to serve as a basis for a broader adoption of common trade rules and standards with other countries.”

Still, what explains the renewed enthusiasm for big trade deals? The answer is in the added economic growth – and therefore the new jobs – that many economists say the expansion of free trade would produce.

A report jointly released Wednesday by the US and the EU finds that a transatlantic trade deal would boost the EU’s economy by about 0.5 percent by 2027, and the US economy by about 0.4 percent over the same period.

Yet even with the prospects for a boost in economic growth, no one expects the negotiations, which officials from both sides say could take about a year, to be easy. Experts note that tariffs between the two trading blocs are already low, so the focus will be on streamlined standards and rules.

And reaching common standards on everything from food products to car parts could be daunting. Anyone who knows about the intense and sometimes emotional rows that have divided the two partners in recent years over genetically modified grains, raw-milk cheeses, or chlorine-bathed chicken meat, will have a glimpse of what may lie ahead.

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