Concluding EPA negotiations: Legal and institutional issues

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    The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are due to be concluded by 31December 2007, so as to enter into force by 1 January 2008. All parties are currently committed to the timely conclusion of the EPA negotiations this year. However, some African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions or countries may not find themselves in a position to do so. The negotiations have been marred by delays, with numerous issues remaining to be addressed by the negotiators. ACP countries and regions have faced serious constraints in their capacity to prepare for EPA negotiations and implementation. In addition, the European Union (EU) has not always responded as promptly as expected to ACP requests and positions during the negotiations. As a result, EPA negotiations have generally progressed at a pace much slower than initially anticipated in the respective regional road maps. In this context, this study reviews the legal commitments and institutional arrangements necessary for the timely conclusion of the EPA negotiations and their application by 2008. It also considers the legal and institutional consequences of the failure by an ACP country or EPA regional grouping to sign an EPA by the end of 2007 or to later ratify it. It is not the purpose of this study to assess whether EPAs should be concluded or not, nor by what date. Nor does it intend to assess the merits of an EPA or any alternative trading arrangement. Read Policy Management Report 12:    
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