Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU and Groups of ACP Countries: Will They Promote Development?
In this paper we explore the nature and effects of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the EU and groups of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. We argue that the direct economic effects from reciprocal trade liberalization - both positive and negative – may be rather limited. EPAs will only marginally increase access of ACP countries to the EU market and empirical studies on the static effects of trade liberalization show a small negative effect on economic development for ACP countries. However, we argue that EPAs can trigger changes that do contribute to development: better regional institutions, reform of agricultural subsidies in the EU, an increased role of the private sector in economic development through foreign direct investment and outsourcing, and a new perspective in the field of migration. Hence, we conclude that the process should not stop at signing regional free trade agreements, but that it should be enlarged into new approaches of economic integration and development of groups of ACP countries.