A Momentous Step Towards a New, Transformed Relationship
The CARIFORUM-EU EPA is a landmark trade and development accord between the CARIFORUM States of the one part, and the EU and its Member States, of the other part. The EPA was the first agreement of its kind to be concluded between the 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 ACP-EU Partnership Agreement or the “Cotonou Agreement”, which was signed in 2000 and is due to expire in 2020. The Cotonou Agreement 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 Investment and Trade in Services, Trade-related Issues and Development Cooperation.
Objectives of the EPA
As set out in Article 1 of the EPA, the objectives of this Agreement are:
(a) Contributing to the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty through the establishment of a trade partnership consistent with the objective of sustainable development, the Millennium Development Goals and the Cotonou Agreement;
(b) Promoting regional integration, economic cooperation and good governance thus establishing and implementing an effective, predictable and transparent regulatory framework for trade and investment between the Parties and in the CARIFORUM region;
(c) Promoting the gradual integration of the CARIFORUM States into the world economy, in accordance with their political choices and development priorities;
(d) Improving the CARIFORUM States’ capacity in trade policy and trade related issues;
(e) Supporting the conditions for increasing investment and private sector initiative and enhancing supply capacity, competitiveness and economic growth in the CARIFORUM region;
(f) Strengthening the existing relations between the Parties on the basis of solidarity and mutual interest. To this end, taking into account their respective levels of development and consistent with WTO obligations, the Agreement shall enhance commercial and economic relations, support a new trading dynamic between the Parties by means of the progressive, asymmetrical liberalization of trade between them and reinforce, broaden and deepen cooperation in all areas relevant to trade and investment.