A Momentous Step Towards a New, Transformed
The CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement
(EPA) was the first trade agreement of its kind to
be concluded between the European Union (EU) and one
of six African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of
States (ACP) negotiating configurations. The
Agreement heralds the dawn of a new era of relations
between CARIFORUM and the EU. One significant
difference between the CARIFORUM-EU EPA and the
trade relationship between the European Economic
Community (EEC) and the ACP is the introduction of
the reciprocal grant of preferences by the two
sides, instead of the non-reciprocal preferential
(duty free) market access in favour of ACP States,
which provided terms more favourable than those
extended to the goods of other countries.
The CARIFORUM-EU EPA, therefore, lays bare a
fundamental break with the past, for the two sides.
The successively renegotiated Lomé Conventions had
long been the centerpiece of their trade and aid
relationship. Dating back to the 1970s, the Lomé
Conventions were ultimately replaced by the Cotonou
Partnership Agreement (CPA), which was signed in
2000. The CPA exemplifies an evolution in the
cooperation framework anchoring ACP-EU relations.
Based on three broad areas of partnership (i.e.
Development Cooperation, Trade, and Political
Dialogue), the CPA comprises a number of new
elements in the re-tooled ACP-EU relationship.
Against this backdrop, the CARIFORUM-EU EPA
represents a modern, comprehensive trade agreement
that has development components. The CARIFORUM-EU
EPA forms the basis of a mature trading relationship
between the two sides, encompassing not just a trade
in Goods regime, but also Trade in Services,
Trade-Related Issues and Development Cooperation.