The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the European Union (EU) and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries have become some of the most ambitious trade negotiations exercises in recent years. The EPAs aimed to replace unilateral preferences with reciprocal WTO-compatible Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in 2008, after the end of the WTO waiver for Cotonou preferences. The agreements are very comprehensive, and in addition to EU-ACP trade integration, involve additional objectives, such as: strengthening existing South-South Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs); including specific development objectives; and incorporating trade in services and other non-trade issues.
After a decade of intense negotiations between all the parties involved, the results have been disappointing. Only CARIFORUM countries have signed a fully fledged agreement with the EU. In Africa, 19 countries have initialled an interim agreement, as well as two countries in the Pacific. The remaining countries, while still negotiating an agreement, export to the EU under the existing Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) agreement, or in the case of LDCs, under the Everything but Arms (EBA) agreement. The purpose of this study was to review this lengthy process by evaluating two elements of the negotiations; the resource costs associated with the negotiations and the development objectives of the EPAs. The study involved qualitative analysis, desk quantification and country case studies
Following the introduction to this report, part 2 documents the EPA negotiating process for the ACP regions. It highlights the main controversies and different negotiating dynamics between regions. It also includes a very selective survey of the existing evidence regarding the likely impact of the EPAs. These results will be used to infer the potential benefits of the agreements for the country case studies. Part three carries out the review of the EPA process. It starts by describing the methodology to be used for the review. It then uses three country case studies to carry out a detailed description of the negotiating structure, quantification of the resource costs used for EPA negotiations and a description of the main perceptions about the EPA process for each country. This detailed costing exercise undertaken for the case studies is then used to try to estimate an overall cost of negotiating the EPAs for the ACP region. Finally, the last section of the review describes how the main proposed components of the EPAs have impacted on the negotiations and their likely impact on development in ACP countries. The final part of the report analyses the main lessons from the review of the EPA process and suggests some policy options as a way forward to conclude the negotiations. The accompanying annexes provide full detail on the different case studies and evaluations of the different sections of the report.
Anon. EPA Review Report. Institute of Development Studies (IDS) / Centre for the Analysis of Regional Integration at Sussex (CARIS),University of Sussex, Brighton, UK (2010) 27 pp.