15 Nov 2013

Trade talks set to disrupt Africa-Europe relations: the trouble with the Economic Partnership Agreements

Talks towards free trade between the European Union (EU) and Sub-Saharan African countries could seriously sour the political relations between the two continents and potentially jeopardise their Summit next April.

After over ten years of negotiations, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are due to be completed over the next few months. 

Failure to do so by October 2014 - a deadline unilaterally set by the EU -will mean that some African countries will lose their preferential access to the European market. Based on a new ECDPM paper, San Bilal writes in ‘This is Africa’ on the ongoing process, saying the challenge is that negotiations on EPAs, meant to be concluded on a regional basis, are still bogged down by some remaining technical issues that negotiators seem unable to overcome. 

It is time to take more explicit account of the political nature and interests behind this EPA process, so as to encourage more strategic diplomacy. ECDPM also released a paper asking what would it take to make an EPA economically and politically feasible for Europe and Africa?


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