Economic Partnership Agreements between Sub-Saharan Africa and the EU: A Development Perspective

13 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2004

See all articles by Lawrence E. Hinkle

Lawrence E. Hinkle

World Bank

Maurice Schiff

Fellow, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)


This paper draws on Hinkle and Schiff (2003). It analyses the planned Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the EU and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) from a development perspective. It does not take a position on whether SSA should enter into EPAs with the EU. Rather, it starts from the notion that the process of forming EPAs is unlikely to be reversed and examines the conditions that will maximise SSA's benefits from the EPAs. If this notion is correct, then the analysis presented in the paper applies. On the other hand, Pascal Lamy, the EU Trade Commissioner, made a proposal at the May 2004 G-90 summit in Dakar that might lead to a change in the EPA process. He proposed that the G-90, a group consisting of ACP and non-ACP LDC countries, should not have to make concessions at the WTO Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, i.e., he proposed a 'free round' for the G-90. This proposal opens the door to the possibility that the same might apply to the ACP countries in the EU-ACP negotiations and that the EPA process might be reversed. The paper considers the key issues raised by the planned EPAs, their relationship to the WTO's Doha Round and the EU's Everything-but-Arms Initiative, the changes needed to make the EPAs internally consistent, the domestic reforms in SSA that would need to accompany trade liberalisation in both goods and services, and the potential effects of the EPAs on regional integration in SSA. The EPAs will pose a number of policy challenges for SSA countries, including: restructuring of indirect tax systems, reduction of MFN tariffs, liberalisation of service imports on an MFN basis and related regulatory reforms in the services sector, and liberalisation of trade in both goods and services within the regional trading blocs in SSA. The paper also finds that the EPAs provide an opportunity to accelerate regional and global trade integration in SSA. To realise the potential development benefits of the planned EPAs, two steps are essential. First, the EU must, as it has stated, truly treat the EPAs as instruments of development, subordinating its commercial interests in the agreements to the development needs of SSA. Second, the SSA countries need to implement a number of EPA-related trade policy reforms. However, the latter is far from certain, given the lack of reform momentum in SSA.

Suggested Citation

Hinkle, Lawrence E. and Schiff, Maurice W., Economic Partnership Agreements between Sub-Saharan Africa and the EU: A Development Perspective. Available at SSRN:

Lawrence E. Hinkle

World Bank

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Maurice W. Schiff (Contact Author)

Fellow, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )


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