Traidcraft review of EPA negotiations
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CTA. 2003. Traidcraft review of EPA negotiations. Agritrade, December 2003. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52810
A report entitled 'Economic Partnership Agreements: the EU's...
A report entitled 'Economic Partnership Agreements: the EU's new trade battleground' was published by Traidcraft in September 2003. It raises two key questions: will the EU approach 'be characterised by increased determination and aggression' or 'increased respect for developing country negotiators'? will alliances formed in the run up to Cancun hold together under the pressure of regionally based EPA negotiations, through which the EU seeks to promote its underlying trade agenda? The report argues that ACP governments will need to balance concessions in the WTO with how they deploy their negotiating capital bilaterally, pointing out that commitments made in one forum may become a 'floor rather than a ceiling from which further concessions are then sought'. Other points that the report highlights are: the EU is pushing hard in EPA negotiations on issues rejected in Cancun; the EU's 'twin-track approach further stretches the negotiating capacity of developing countries who have yet another forum in which to defend their interests'. the EU's unwillingness to address substantive issues of concern to ACP governments during phase 1 talks, particularly with regard to agricultural issues and the need for a modification of WTO rules to allow the flexibility needed to accommodate the needs of ACP countries. in many areas, on the contrary, the EU is pushing for 'WTO+' arrangements in the EPA negotiations. The paper goes on to review a range of non-agricultural issues discussed in the negotiations including: trade in services; intellectual property rights; investment; public procurement; trade facilitation and competition policy. The report concludes by criticising the EU's 'WTO+' approach in areas where the ACP are clearly unwilling to make commitments and calls on the EU to: initiate independent sustainability assessments; address the substantive issues of concern raised by ACP countries; make alternative arrangements for non-least developed ACP countries which may not feel in a position to sign up to EPAs. Comment: This report provides a popular review of the EPA debate with reference to the issues discussed at the WTO and demonstrates how the EPA negotiations are an integral part of a single integrated EU trade-policy agenda.