A Matter of Political Will

How the European Union can maintain market access for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in the absence of Economic Partnership Agreements

Published: 27 April 2007

The European Commission has threatened 76 of the world’s poorest countries with lower access to the EU market – if they fail to sign new trade deals known as Economic Partnerhip Agreements (EPAs) by the end of 2007, when their current market access preferences expire.But the threats are not justified: in the event that African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) nations are not ready to sign by the end of the year, the European Union could still continue to provide them with a high level of market access, using the GSP-plus scheme, without breaching World Trade Organization rules. This level of market access would also be compatible with their developmental needs.