Europe's textile and clothing industry has welcomed the news that the EU and the US are to commence talks on the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will aim to go beyond the classic format of removing tariffs and opening markets, the EU, European Commission and US President Barack Obama said in a joint statement.

Another important focus will be the alignment of rules and technical product standards, currently viewed as the most significant barrier to transatlantic trade.

According to the EU, studies have shown that the cost burden of regulatory differences equates to a tariff of more than 10% – or as high as 20% in some sectors.

EU calculations suggest that the new deal could lead to a 0.5% increase in GDP every year for the EU, and a 0.4% gain for the US – equating to EUR86bn (US$115bn) in additional annual income for the EU and EUR65bn for the US.

“This is very positive news in a moment when the EU textile and clothing industry is relying on exports as an engine for growth,” said Alberto Paccanelli, president of EU clothing and textile trade federation Euratex.

“There are a lot of areas where we can improve trade and business between the EU and the US,” he added.

“For our sector tariffs are still high in the US – in some cases above 16% – and in the regulatory field we should work towards harmonisation as a way to facilitate trade and reduce the costs for companies on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The US currently ranks among the top five export markets for EU textiles and clothing, with exports of more than EUR3.8bn a year.