Unequal Partners

How EU–ACP Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) could harm the development prospects of many of the world’s poorest countries

Published: 18 September 2006

The Doha ‘Development’ Round of trade talks has stalled, but the world’s poorest countries remain under pressure to open up their markets with potentially disastrous consequences. The EU wants to forge new free trade agreements with 74 of its former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP). These imbalanced negotiations of ‘Economic Partnership Agreements’ (EPAs) between the two regions, pit some of the world’s most advanced industrial economies against some of the poorest nations on earth. The EU has an opportunity to develop fairer trading relations with ACP countries, but such extreme disparities in negotiating power could all too easily produce unfair results. The proposed EPAs are a serious threat to the future development prospects of ACP countries, and the forthcoming review of the EPA negotiations must be used to force a radical rethink.