The fourth round of talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and EU are set to take place in March following a "stocktaking" meeting between the two sides next month.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and US Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman will meet in Washington DC on 17-18 February to review of the negotiations to date, according to an announcement yesterday (28 January).

The European Commission has also set up an expert group to advise it on the trade talks, with specialists covering a range of issues including consumer interests, labour law, the environment and public health, business, manufacturing, agriculture and services sectors.

The announcements come after the EC last week temporarily halted talks on the TTIP  over concerns about the investment provisions of the deal.

The EU-US negotiations for the TTIP began in July last year and are aimed at removing trade barriers in a wide range of economic sectors to make it easier to buy and sell goods and services between the EU and the US.

The EU said in June that the TTIP could bring EUR119bn (US$152.1m) a year in gains for the EU and EUR95bn in gains for the US once the agreement is fully implemented.