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Catherine Ashton

U.S.-EU pact will be trade 'game changer': EU envoy

European Union officials on Thursday touted the huge economic potential of a proposed free trade pact with the United States even as they poked fun at its cumbersome name, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership."We've launched this strange animal called TTIP ('tee tip')," EU Ambassador to the United States JoÛÛo Vale de Almeida said at a reception to mark Europe Day. "This is a game-changer. As I like to say, this is the mother of all free trade areas."The two sides are expected to begin talks on the pact in July and hope to finish in one to two years. If successful, the final agreement would cover half the world's economic output and about a third of global trade.The proposed pact "sends a strong signal ... that despite our economic challenges (in the EU and United States), we are all open for business and trade," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the group."I was recently in China. (They) were very, very interested in what this meant, not just for us, but also...

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