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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Where are EPAs going wrong?

With the European elections, and the ongoing expenses furore, discussions about policy have not been number one on anyone's agenda of late.

However, we have just noticed this well-thought out piece on the website of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, examining the ongoing negotiations surrounding the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the EU and various African, Carribean and Pacific (ACP) countries. It picks up on similar criticisms we have raised about EPAs in the past, see here and here.

The piece raises an important point about the standstill clause in the EPAs, which would require countries to bind their tariffs at current applied rates, even when their bound rates (the maximum level the tariffs can be raised to) are higher.

In other words, if African markets were flooded with cheap imports of produce from the EU, those countries would be unable to raise their tariffs temporarily in order to protect local producers and produce. This point is particularly acute in light of what the piece goes on to say: "Given Europe's recent decision to re-introduce export subsidies to support its farmers through the economic crisis, African countries are more likely to need effective responses to import surges."

Have a look at the article for the full discussion on where the EPAs are going wrong.

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