from Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

The Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership as a Foreign Policy Tool

Insights From a CFR Workshop

April 27, 2016



The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is widely touted as a strategic centerpiece of the Obama administration's broader rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region. Another big trade pact, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), may also have the potential to advance several noneconomic U.S. foreign policy objectives rather than being circumscribed to economic concerns.

The Council on Foreign Relations hosted a workshop to examine ways in which TTIP could advance the noneconomic foreign policy interests of the United States, the European Union (EU), and EU member states. The workshop gathered experts—including current and former policymakers, economists, political scientists, investors, and business representatives—to explore whether and how the still-evolving TTIP could be designed to meet foreign policy objectives in areas such as cybersecurity, energy security, and European economic unity, and to identify how U.S. policymakers could best incorporate such elements into the agreement. This report, which you can download here, summarizes the discussion's highlights. The report reflects the views of workshop participants alone; CFR takes no position on policy issues.

Framing Questions for the Workshop

TTIP's Progress to Date and Its Potential as a Tool for Noneconomic U.S. Foreign Policy

More on:


Treaties and Agreements

Europe and Eurasia

How does TTIP differ from previous U.S. trade agreements in terms of negotiating mandate, as well as in sheer practical considerations of negotiating with a relative peer? How have negotiators structured negotiations thus far? Surveying the current negotiating framework, which elements could have the largest benefits for U.S. noneconomic foreign policy? What are areas or issues that, though not currently included, could significantly advance U.S. noneconomic foreign policy interests if introduced into the negotiations?

Case Studies on China, Cyber, Energy Security, and European Unity

How might both sides use TTIP to develop joint responses to myriad challenges stemming from China's rising economic power, especially Chinese economic coercion in Asia and beyond?  What are the risks and benefits of using TTIP to solve for these challenges?

How might the United States and EU capitalize on the TTIP negotiations as a venue to begin developing joint responses against cyber espionage and cyber threats?

How might the United States and the EU use TTIP to advance shared energy security goals, especially dampening Russia's energy leverage over Europe? What are the risks and benefits of doing so?

Beyond the general prospect of boosting EU economic growth, how might TTIP be structured so as to strengthen EU cohesion and resilience? How might TTIP look different, if U.S. and EU leaders were inclined to prioritize the EU's institutional health (and the attracting power of the European project more generally) as a leading goal of the negotiations? What are the challenges or drawbacks of using TTIP as a tool to rejuvenate the idea of Europe and strengthen the EU's centripetal forces?

More on:


Treaties and Agreements

Europe and Eurasia

Guiding Principles: How Should Policymakers Decide?

Surveying the potential issues that a TTIP with more focus on noneconomic U.S. foreign policies might take on, how should policymakers triage and decide among them?  How should they weigh the surrounding risks and benefits? Presumably there exist some potential noneconomic foreign policy aims which are not suitable for including within a trade agreement, TTIP included; how might policymakers distinguish these from areas that are suitable for inclusion within TTIP? 

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