Kerry proposes US-EU free trade zone

Paris - US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday a proposed US-EU free trade zone could help Europe emerge from the economic crisis and played down fears it would hit the farm sector.

"What is important is that ... we move rapidly to have a profound impact on the rest of the world," Kerry told French business leaders, including the heads of Air Liquide, Thales and GE France, at a meeting at the US ambassador's Paris residence.

"The EU and the United States together represent one-third of the total of all the goods and services sold in the world and we represent more than 50% of the total global economic output of the world," he said.

US President Barack Obama last week notified Congress that the government would launch trade talks with the European Union aimed at forging the world's largest free-trade area.

The Obama administration said it intends to launch negotiations with the EU "no earlier than 90 days" after the notification.

13 million jobs

Kerry said the proposed free trade area could help Europe emerge from the current economic crisis.

"I believe as does President Obama that this may be one the best ways of helping Europe to break out of this cycle, have growth," Kerry said.

The trade and investment ties support 13 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, according to the US Trade Representative.

Kerry referred to concerns over agricultural products, saying: "I know the fears in some places. I believe personally than we can work through the differences.

"I understand the geographical components of certain products that are produced in France ... and I value that. Roquefort is Roquefort for a reason and Champagne is Champagne for a reason. We get it. There are to be ways to protect things that are geographically identified".

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