BRUSSELS - The United States and European Union agreed on Friday to work "full throttle" to secure the world's biggest-ever free trade deal despite growing skepticism on both sides of the Atlantic.
Negotiators ended an eighth set of talks on the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact, or TTIP, which after nearly two years remains bogged down by activist opposition.
They agreed to hold two more rounds of talks before summer, one of them in April the other later in the first half of the year, chief EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero said.
"We have received a clear instruction to intensify our talks and to make as much progress as possible this year," he told a news conference in Brussels after five days of talks.
The EU-U.S. trade deal would not just slash the already low trade tariffs they share but would also harmonize regulations to an unprecedented degree, affecting goods and services as far-ranging as Roquefort cheese and accounting.
But campaigners are opposed to many aspects.
The most contentious part of the deal -- a clause which allows corporations to sue governments in tribunals that are above national law -- would not be on the negotiating table in this round of talks, as parties engage in a "consultative process", Bercero said.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015