NORTHERN IRELAND— President Barack Obama said next month the United States will host a first round of talks toward a transatlantic free trade agreement. The president made the announcement with European leaders Monday on the first day of the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland.
Obama said he will host the talks in Washington, starting the week of July 8.
"Among the things we will discuss here are promoting new growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic," he said. "And I am pleased to join these leaders to announce the launch of negotiations on a new trade agreement that will help us do just that."
Obama joined British Prime Minister David Cameron and European Union leaders in saying an eventual agreement on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would further ease trade between the world's two largest economies, the United States and the EU.
"It makes up nearly half of global GDP. We trade about a trillion dollars in goods and services each year," Obama said. "We invest nearly $4 trillion in each other's economies. And all that supports about 13 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic."
Officials on both sides of the Atlantic say the partnership would open markets, encourage investment, eliminate all trade tariffs and reduce bureaucracy.
Obama's first stop of the trip was in Belfast, where he and his wife Michelle spoke to a group of students about the progress made since the end of Northern Ireland's decades of sectarian violence, and about what still needs to be done.
"If you continue your courageous path toward a permanent peace, and all the social and economic benefits that have come with it, that will not just be good for you, it will be good for this entire island," he said. "It will be good for the United Kingdom. It will be good for Europe. It will be good for the world."
In two days of meetings, the leaders of the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan are discussing security issues such as the violence in Syria, in addition to the global economy.