U.S.-EU trade talks are vital, must continue: Italian minister

August 30, 2016 6:11 AM EDT

U.S. chief negotiator Dan Mullaney addresses a joint news conference with European Union chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero (unseen) after the 14th Round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in Brussels, Belgium, July 15, 2016

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ROME (Reuters) - A free trade deal being negotiated by the United States and the European Union will be reached, but the talks will take more time than originally expected, Italy's trade and industry minister said.

The U.S. and the EU have been negotiating the TransatlanticTrade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) for three years, and with no agreement in sight, France's trade minister said on Tuesday that the discussions should be halted.

But Italy's Carlo Calenda said it was essential for Italian exporters that the negotiations bore fruit. "TTIP will be sealed. It is inevitable," he said in an interview with Corriere della Sera newspaper published on Tuesday.

Calenda said it would be difficult to reach a deal before U.S. President Barack Obama left office at the end of the year. "But we have to carry on. This accord is essential for Italy."

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer)

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