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To know more about Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), see our Dossier.

When the EU opened free trade negotiations with 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific (APC) countries in 2002, it promised a new era for development.

The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) were intended as market-led reforms for better integration of developing countries into the world economy, considered a driving force fostering development.

The Economic Partnership Agreements have dominated trade relations between the EU and the APC and there seems to be little appetite to conclude negotiations – 11 years later negotiations are still dragging on

By 2012, only the CARIFORUM group of Caribbean states had concluded a comprehensive EPA, while a few African and Pacific states have concluded Interim EPAs.

The EU has tried to reinvigorate the process by setting a deadline of  October 2014, but various actors including the European Parliament, NGOs and some ACP countries have called for a further extension.

The way forward on the EPAs may have significant consequences, not only for African economic and political relations with the EU, but also for the integration dynamics of some African regions. Europe’s own trade dynamics and partnerships with the United States and Asia are likely to have an impact on Africa.

Strong political will and negotiating savvy seem to be required to reach a conclusion for Economic Partnership Agreements

In this context, ECDPM will play its traditional role of providing non-partisan analysis for the trade negotiations over 2013–2014, with specific input for the remaining technical issues:

  • The implementation of the action plan through research, dialogue and information activities where we can bring added value
  • Liaising with the key actors such as the Regional Economic Communities and EPA groupings, the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), as well as the European Union institutions and member states
  • Continue to monitor EPAs implementation and document lessons learned from experience for the benefit of other ACP states