The United States and the European Union have agreed to begin talks aimed at creating the world's biggest free trade alliance.
A report published yesterday by the EU said the deal would be the most ambitious attempted since the founding of the World Trade Organisation in 1995, encompassing half the world's economic output and a third of global trade flows.
Trade Minister Richard Bruton said in Dublin that the decision could benefit Ireland to the tune of $100m a year and would boost growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
Mr Bruton, who currently chairs the EU's Trade Council, announced an informal meeting of EU trade ministers in Dublin in April for talks on the issue.
"I will be using my chairmanship of the EU's Trade Council to make progress on a new EU-US trade agreement," he said in a speech in Dublin yesterday.
The green light for the talks came on Tuesday night in Washington when President Barack Obama said he wanted the talks to begin.