EU and US resume trade deal talks

Containers being unloaded in the port of Hamburg, Germany The EU says a trade deal would bring economic benefits to its 28 members

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The EU and US have begun a second round of negotiations towards creating the world's biggest free-trade deal.

Talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) had been set for October, but were postponed because of the US government shutdown.

Relations have become strained after claims that the US listened to German leader Angela Merkel's mobile calls.

US Secretary of State John Kerry last week urged European leaders not to allow the row to disrupt the talks.

Together the US and EU account for about $30 trillion (£18.7tn) of annual output - almost half the world's total.

The EU says a deal could bring annual benefits of 119bn euros ($159bn; £99bn) for its 28 member states.

It is hoped that an agreement could be reached by the end of 2014.

Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that it would be "very good news for economic growth in years to come".

Mr Schmieding said one area where agreed standards could help bring down costs was in the automotive trade, if the US and Europe could decide on agreed standards for cars.

However, he says that potential stumbling blocks include the areas of personal data protection and GM foods.

Others have said a deal could weaken existing strong consumer laws on both sides of the Atlantic.

A third round of talks is scheduled for 16-20 December in Washington.

This week's talks cover services, investment, energy and raw materials.

EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero and US counterpart Dan Mullaney will give an update on talks later this week.

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