Washington DC is not a city that lacks for bureaucrats. This week there will be even more of them than usual. The US capital is about to play host to the first round of the bilateral trade talks between America and the European Union, a sweeping set of negotiations, the ultimate aim of which is to reduce the obstacles to the two economic blocs doing business with each other.

In broad terms, the two sides will try to eliminate import duties on goods traded between the economic giants. They will also battle to reduce red tape, so that international businesses can expand more easily.

The sheer scale of America’s commercial relationship with Europe means that even minor improvements will have a major impact on the economies either side of the Atlantic.

As Europe faces another year of stagnation and economists obsess about the growing clout of emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil, the trading relationship between the US and EU remains the biggest in the world.