This study analyses the development implications of the agricultural provisions of the
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the European Union (EU) and 36 African,
Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. It is argued that, for most countries, the loss of EU
preferences was the decisive factor in signing the EPA, while the additional gains of
improved market access have been limited.
With respect to ACP countries’ import liberalization commitments, the analysis shows
that ACP agricultural markets are not exposed per se to EU products but are affected very
differently. In some EPAs, import liberalization is (heavily) front-loaded and also includes
agricultural items that appear to compete with domestic production. In other EPAs, import
liberalization is largely back-loaded and excludes most sensitive agricultural items. For some
countries and regions, the EPA will affect agricultural protection less than the implementation
of regional tariff commitments will.
However, the EPA does not only include import liberalization commitments, but also
a set of trade policies that comprehensively rule not only EU–ACP trade but also intra-ACP
trade. The implementation of these rules is likely to affect current agricultural policies, as well
as the Special and Differential Treatment (SDT) policies applied in some regions.
The negotiations towards comprehensive EPAs offer both parties the chance to
address areas that are feared to constrain ACP development and regional integration. Having
had the time to study and digest the contents of the interim agreements and their potential
impact in a regional context, both sides might be interested in revising some of the provisions
agreed upon and/or taking up more favourable conditions that have been agreed upon in