TEPSA Brief: Time for a new generation of Trade Agreements?, February 2012

by James Nyomakwa-Obimpeh

For the past 9 years, the European Union (EU) has been negotiating Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with economic blocs of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The aim has been to ensure that trading with the region is compatible with rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and to promote regional integration among the ACP states as a means to integrate them into the global economy.

Although there has been some progress, the states of negotiations are far below expectation. Almost a decade of preparations and negotiations has resulted in the conclusion of only one regional EPA – the EU-CARIFORUM EPA adopted in October 2008. There remain six regional negotiations which have been stalled for the past 111 months due to unambiguous disagreements on several issues. Despite the efforts of the EU to push the negotiations ahead, there is still little hope for the conclusion of the regional EPAs in their existing forms any time soon. It is therefore recommended that the EU reconsiders the currently deep and comprehensive EPAs in favour of specific sector agreements. The EU could recognize its now WTO-compatible trade relations with the ACP region and faction specific Special Trade Agreements as a stepping stone towards a new generation of comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the region in the future, but only when the conditions are ripe.

Please feel free to contact James Nyomakwa-Obimpeh to discuss and to learn more on the future developments about this issue.

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