The CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA): an assessment of issues relating to market access, safeguards and implications for regional integration
The recent collapse of the Doha round once again underscores the tenuous nature of
international trade negotiations. Likewise, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between
the CARIFORUM grouping and the European Union (EU) has generated a great deal of
discussion and debate over the past several months. What has clearly emerged is the existence
of two diametrically opposed views on the impact and usefulness of the agreement. One view
has it that the EPA is a major breakthrough in trade relations that will greatly benefit the region.
On the other hand, some see it as being detrimental to the region and perhaps a total capitulation
to the EU on the part of the CARIFORUM. They assert that it is part of a global EU strategy to
impose World Trade Organization (WTO) policies on developing nations and get around the
Doha obstacles. Both sides in this debate attempt to back up their views with reference to the
text of the agreement.
The objective of this review is to shed some light on the issues driving this debate
particularly in the areas of market access, the impact on tariff revenues, and the implications for
regional integration. This review also attempts to clarify and distill some of the main
contentious issues regarding the EPA and to inform further discussion regarding an
implementation plan. The approach is based on detailed study of the EPA text and its annexes
plus extensive interviews with some of the main negotiators on the CARIFORUM side.
Interviews were conducted both in person and via the Internet as many of the regional
negotiators live or work outside of the region. The reviewer also attended presentations and
discussions with some of the leading regional critics of the agreement.
.--I. The EPA in Context.--II. Issues of liberalization and market access in goods.--III. Safeguards and the protection of domestic sectors.--IV. Issues relating to fiscal implications.--V. Issues relating to services.--VI. Implications for regional integration.--VII. The governance structure of the Agreement.--VIII. Summary and Recommendations