The EU–SADC Economic Partnership Agreement Negotiations: 'locking in' the neoliberal development model in southern Africa?
Third World Quarterly
This article focuses on the negotiation of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) which form the central focus of the commitments made in the Cotonou Agreement, signed in 2000 by the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. EPAs are part of a much wider trend witnessed since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) whereby we have seen the proliferation of bilateral free trade agreements. It argues that both the material and ideational interests of the
... l interests of the EU need to be considered, together with the historical context of EU-ACP relations. The EU is portrayed as making a concerted effort to 'lock-in' neoliberalism across the seven different sub-regions of the ACP group by negotiating EPAs that include both reciprocal trade liberalisation and a raft of 'trade-related' issues. It is suggested that in doing so EPAs will go beyond the requirements for WTOcompatibility, resulting in a reduction of the policy space for ACP states to pursue alternative development strategies. The article then considers the potential developmental impact of EPAs with reference to the negotiations with seven of the fifteen member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Here it is argued that the EU is promoting 'open regionalism' and it is shown how this poses a threat to the coherence of the regional project in southern Africa.