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Jan 24, 2016 11:43 PM

US official seeks support for European trade deal in Poland

The Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland (AP) U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman was welcomed Sunday by Polish entrepreneurs as he worked to finalize a free trade pact between the United States and the European Union.

Froman said the two sides are trying to conclude the deal, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, this year after nearly three years of negotiations.

There is resistance from some Europeans to the planned agreement, which aims to eliminate tariffs and create common regulatory standards between the world's two biggest economies. Opponents fear a lowering in food safety standards and the undermining of local regulations by giving international arbitration panels the power to rule over disputes.

In Warsaw, Froman told a group of young Poles with startups, among them software developers, that the deal would be especially helpful to small and medium-sized businesses like theirs. He said they would benefit from a harmonizing of regulatory standards and intellectual property protection.

"It's small and medium-sized businesses that are driving the economy. And if we can make life easier for them, it's good for all of our economies," Froman said.

Those invited to meet with Froman seemed convinced that they could benefit from it.

"Good competition will be beneficial to both sides," said Krzysztof Gogol, president of the management board of WealthArc, a financial technology startup.

Froman met with the entrepreneurs at the Google Campus in Warsaw, one of several hubs Google has established worldwide to help startups launch.

He met with representatives from five companies, taking time to learn about their operations while also talking to them about how the deal, often referred to as TTIP, might help them.

The most visible opposition to the deal was seen in Berlin last October, when 150,000 people demonstrated against it.

Froman said Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos that neither side has any interest in lowering standards, whether that be regulatory protections, safety standards or environmental requirements.

During his visit Froman is also meeting with Polish leaders. A new round of negotiations on the deal is to take place next month.


This version corrects the spelling of the first name of Krzysztof Gogol.


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