Socio Economic Partnership Agreements

Socio Economic Partnership Agreements

Currently, agricultural trade between ACP countries and the EU already faces many challenges, ranging from the erosion of ACP trade preferences in the EU market to setting standards, to supply restrictions within ACP countries. They are described in Section 2 and focus on the specific issues of the least developed countries (LDCs), areas of convergence and disagreement between LDCs and ACP countries, and the links between the EPA and WTO negotiations on these issues. Section 3 examines EPA issues from the EU`s perspective and sets out a possible negotiation strategy based on the free trade agreements (FTAs) it has previously signed. This analysis is then used to highlight different negotiating options for ACP countries, including the development dimension of EPAs (section 4); Finally, the provisions that could be adopted for the establishment of an “ideal” EPA will be discussed (section 5). The EPAs have their roots in the Lomé Convention, which came into force between 1975 and 1999. These agreements between the European (Economic) Community and 71 ACP countries have granted them duty-free access to the EU market for all products other than agricultural products. In addition, the Lomé Convention aimed to increase aid and investment in ACP countries. Since this agreement granted unilateral preferences to ACP countries, it was found to be contrary to the fundamental principle of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) clause. In 1996 and 2001, a waiver was granted to the EU provided that the Lomé agreements were replaced by WTO-compliant trade agreements, such as EPAs. Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are trade and development agreements negotiated between the EU and countries and regions in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). The Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA), signed in 2000 by the European Union (EU) and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, aims to replace current non-reciprocal trade preferences with Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). One of the main characteristics of these EPAs, which must contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction, is to place trade between the ACP and the EU on a reciprocal path of reciprocity. Given its socio-economic importance to ACP countries and the share of ACP-EU trade for which it is directed, agriculture is a key sector of the EPA negotiations.

The scale of these negotiations is also part of the broader context of agricultural negotiations within the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the reform of the EU`s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) (section 1). EPAs with sub-Saharan Africa and other EU free trade agreements with North African countries are building blocks of the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the long-term prospect of a free trade agreement between continental countries. The EPAs already contain useful trade instruments for the construction of the AfCFTA. They provide a strong framework for regional trade and investment between THE EPA partners themselves and with the EU. They also strengthen the commercial capacity of EU partners. The EU`s trade relations with ACP countries are governed by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement signed in 2000 between the EU, its member states and the ACP countries. As this political, economic and global development partnership expires in 2020, the parties are currently negotiating a successor agreement (the “post-Cotonou”).