A Momentous Step Towards a New, Transformed Relationship
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.