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The Geopolitical Implications of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Author: Charles A. Kupchan, Senior Fellow
June 11, 2014
Transatlantic Academy


U.S. and European negotiators are hard at work to bring negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to a successful conclusion. The primary motivation behind this effort is to boost economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic. Amid a prolonged economic downturn, U.S. and European policymakers are searching for measures capable of stimulating growth and creating jobs. Structural constraints in Europe and political gridlock in the United States make a free trade agreement one of the more attractive options available for achieving these objectives.

Although the deal's economic impact is the chief driver behind TTIP, the pact would also have important geopolitical consequences. These geopolitical consequences are, however, not well articulated by policymakers. Moreover, the scholarly literature provides indeterminate findings as to the geopolitical implications of increased economic interdependence. Some studies indicate that commercial interdependence facilitates political cooperation and geopolitical stability, suggesting that TTIP, if successfully concluded, may be an important source of transatlantic solidarity. Other studies are more circumspect about the strategic implications of interdependence, finding little evidence that economic integration on its own is an important contributor to geopolitical stability. High levels of interdependence among Europe's major powers did little to stave off World War I. In similar fashion, commercial and financial flows between China and Japan appear to have little effect on dampening geopolitical rivalry. From this perspective, policymakers and analysts alike should be careful not to overstate TTIP's political and strategic implications.

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