WTO Compatibility and the Legal Form of EPAs: A Case Study of Eastern and Southern Africa

51 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2008

Date Written: July 9, 2008


This paper considers the compatibility of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the European Commission (EC) and African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) countries with the law of the World Trade Organisation. The Eastern and Southern African EPAs are used as a case study. Three possibilities for compatibility are examined. The waiver option is rejected as overly vulnerable to change. It is argued that it is probably possible to justify the agreements under the Enabling Clause, particularly for Eastern and Southern African EPAs. However, non-reciprocal arrangements were not politically acceptable to the EC or to the ACP countries. EPAs have been justified as Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs). As the services components of the Eastern and Southern African EPAs are not yet negotiated, the analysis focuses on the goods components. Although the data currently available is not extensive, preliminary problems for compatibility emerge, including the failure to notify the agreements, the length of the transition periods, compliance with the internal requirement and the safeguard provisions. The WTO compatibility of these EPAs will depend on the extent to which the development objective introduces flexibility into the interpretation of the GATT.

Keywords: WTO, World Trade Organization, Compatibility, EPAs, Economic Partnership Agreements, European Commission, African-Caribbean-Pacific Countries, EC, ACP Countries, Enabling Clause, Non-reciprocal agreements, RTAs, Regional Trade Agreements, GATT, Eastern and South African EPA

JEL Classification: F02, F10, F13, F14, F15

Suggested Citation

Kelly, Ruth, WTO Compatibility and the Legal Form of EPAs: A Case Study of Eastern and Southern Africa (July 9, 2008). Society of International Economic Law (SIEL) Inaugural Conference 2008 Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1157511 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1157511

Ruth Kelly (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom

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