On 16 December 2007, the European Commission announced that it had agreed a full Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the ACP (African, Caribbean, and Pacific) countries of the Caribbean region. The agreement guarantees and extends access for the Caribbean countries’ exports to the EU. The full EPA includes in goods, trade in services, rules on trade related issues, as well as development cooperation.
The above agreement follows two earlier interimagreements concerning just “trade in goods”. On 7 December the Commission announced that it had agreed an interimtrade deal with Botswana, Lesotho,Mozambique and Swaziland, and on 10 December 2007, a similar deal with the East African Community – comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – that would see 80%of their tariffs against EU goods cut within 15 years.
The EU is seeking EPAs with ACP countries to replace the current preferential systemthat has been ruled illegal by the WTO. Increasingly aware of China’s growing push into Africa, the EU had been attempting to conclude the new trade agreements before the expiration of the existing deals on 31 December 2007. However, the EU has been accused by development NGOs of coercing the ACP group of nations into signing deals by the end of 2007.