A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
A look at the news

EPA: Toward A Muted Agreement

26 November 2007



Pressure exerted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) to reach a deal ahead of the December 31, 2007 deadline, along with fear of a regulatory vacuum in relations between the parties, have led the EU to propose that an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) be drawn up “in two stages.”

This would mean first focusing on trade in goods, with sensitive subjects such as free trade in services and investment markets set aside for now.

Certain countries in Southern and East Africa,1 along with the Pacific States, are leaning increasingly in favor of a “lighter” EPA. This partial agreement would meet the requirements of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and should only cover goods. Negotiations would then continue in 2008 with a view to reaching a “comprehensive” EPA by the end of the year. West and Central Africa, for their part, would like an extension of the two-year waiver granted by the WTO, to which the EU is opposed.2 The Caribbean, for its part, is positioned as the exception since this group’s countries are set to reach a full agreement soon.

These last-minute negotiations may lead to free trade prevailing over the development concerns of the ACP countries. Furthermore, the EU, in its desire to reach minimal agreements at all costs, has in the end adopted an approach that centers on specific sectors and countries rather than regional entities. All of this leads one to believe that the initial goal of the EPAs – to establish agreements that would reach beyond the increased opening of markets to further stimulate sustainable development in the ACP countries while at the same time working toward regional integration – has taken a hit.

In the long term, these countries could end up having lost out from these agreements, since they would be required to liberalize without bona fide support measures having been planned beforehand, and would see increased competition between and even within the ACP regions.

How the EPA negotiations have progressed inspires comparison with the Doha Round: years pass and the core problems remain unsolved. To avoid ending up in a quasi-irreversible situation, other solutions must urgently be considered, with priority placed on agricultural development.


1 Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and Angola in particular, while Namibia and South Africa remain reluctant.
2 Read, on this subject, Calls to Extend EPA Negotiations in the “Personal Accounts” section and Central Africa Just as Reluctant to Sign EPAs in the “A Look at the News” section, published on October 22, 2007 and November 5, 2007, respectively.
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