Trade talks between the United States and the European Union got off to a good start, but hard bargaining will be required to reach a deal by the goal of late 2014, U.S. and EU trade officials said on Friday.
Daniel Mullaney, the chief negotiator for the U.S. side, said EU concerns about U.S. surveillance activities did not come up in the first round of talks this week because they are being discussed on a parallel track outside the trade negotiations.
"From the point of view of the European Union, the work this week has been very productive," Ignacio Garcia-Bercero, the chief EU negotiator told reporters at a joint news conference with Mullaney.
"Both of us see this agreement as having the potential to deliver something that would be transformative for our economies in terms of market access, in terms of regulatory capability and in terms of rulemaking," he said.
The two sides are aiming to reach a comprehensive trade agreement by the end of 2014 to eliminate remaining tariffs on each others' goods and to reduce regulatory barriers to trade in areas ranging from agriculture to chemicals to services.
Asked if negotiators would be able to finish the deal in 18 months, Mullaney said both sides were committed to moving "expeditiously" but substance would determine when a deal is struck.
The start of the talks was overshadow by reports of U.S. spying on EU offices, which prompted France to suggest that the talks be delayed for two weeks.
Instead, U.S. and EU officials held a separate set of talks early this week to discuss those issues.