Economic Partner Agreement

Learn more about LFAs in this factsheet and the 10 benefits of EPAs for partner countries and sustainable development. How to make EPAs WTO-compatible? Reform of the rules governing regional free trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, provides for duty-free trade in goods and services between nations and the removal of other barriers to trade. Economic Partnership Agreements contain the same provisions as a free trade agreement, but go beyond free trade agreements. In addition to free trade, the EPAs provide for the free movement of persons and contain provisions on public procurement, international competition and cooperation, customs procedures and international dispute settlement. The entry into force of an agreement is a long process: it requires signature, ratification and implementation and can sometimes take years. Therefore, in order to avoid any disruption to trade before the entry into force of the EPAs, the EU adopted on 20 December 2007 a Market Access Regulation (MAR 1528/2007) which, from 1 January 2008, will provisionally apply EPA preferences to countries that have concluded such an agreement but have not yet signed, ratified and implemented their agreements. Subsequently, in May 2013, the EU decided, through EU Regulation 527/2013, to amend the MAR to exclude, from 1 October 2014, countries that have not taken the necessary steps to ratify the EPA concluded in 2007. These countries therefore had to do so or conclude a new (regional) EPA that was to be reintegrated under MAR 1528/2007. For those who are not before the 1st after that date, they are automatically covered by the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), a differentiated preferential trade regime that the EU unilaterally grants to all developing countries. Least developed countries (LDCs) can, under the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative, market duty-free access to the EU market under the EU GSP for all exports from least developed countries, with the exception of arms. In addition, under the eu`s new GSP, which entered into force on 1 January 2014, all middle-income countries would no longer have trade preferences on the EU market from 2016. The agreements provide a framework for cooperation and not competition between geographically distant economies. An agreement between a stronger economy and a weaker economy should stimulate the economic development of the weaker nation, while bringing real benefits to the strongest.

They aim to maintain peace among nations in different parts of the world and to improve the standard of living of families in less developed countries. Opponents of the Economic Partnership Agreements argue that the agreements can benefit more developed countries than their less developed partners. Stronger economies may be more inclined to exploit their weaker partners, resulting in unequal benefits. According to, Economic Partnership Agreements must provide for reciprocity in order to qualify according to world trade organisation rules. This means that any measure taken in favour of a given economy must be retorted by that economy, which has the theoretical consequence of giving each country the same amount of advantages. 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 acp countries. Given that this comprehensive political, economic and development partnership expires in 2020, the parties are currently negotiating a successor agreement (the so-called “post-Cotonou” agreement). The EU is implementing seven Economic Partnership Agreements with 32 partners, including 14 in Africa. The main objective of epas is to use trade and investment for sustainable development.

The content of the agenda will be broadened, with agreements covering new topics such as services and investment. The Cotonou Agreement offers EU and ACP countries the opportunity to negotiate development-oriented free trade agreements, called EPAs. . . .

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