Article from ROAPE Volume 34 Number 112
EU Trade Policy & Future of Trade Relationship with EU
Despite the announcement of a ‘new trade strategy’, EU agricultural trade policy has exhibited considerable consistency over several decades, always conditional on the CAP regime and the course of its reform. A 25-year, heavily subsidised transition, will shortly see European farmers (thanks to income support of up to 50% of their total income), able to enter the world market without export subsidies. Meanwhile the EC expects ‘partner’ countries in Africa (and the Caribbean and the Pacific) with still underdeveloped infrastructures, and provided with relatively trivial subsidies, to complete a similar process in a decade or so. The economic partnership agreement (EPA) negotiations are based on a shift from the Lomé Convention's non-reciprocity commitment to a basic regime of free trade between the EU and EPA regions, involving liberalisation of trade in goods, trade-related areas and services. Whereas Europe has already effectively integrated, few African regions have yet got very far in regional integration, but the EC is forcing the pace in negotiations so that there is a risk that integration will be with the EU rather than within a country's own region, and on the EU's terms. A ‘development dimension’ adds an element of window-dressing (or sugaring of the pill). This article considers the development programmes that the EU is promising in order to address infrastructural constraints in the partner countries, and the costs of adjustment to free trade, in particular the loss of state revenues generated from tariffs. The article concludes with an attempt to foresee the likely outcomes and implications of the negotiations, including the undermining of government revenues and the consequent increase in reliance on the private sector for many services, accelerated deindustrialisation, and the inhibiting of first-stage processing of agricultural commodities, the undermining of regional integration, the economic ‘recolonisation’ of Africa and the harming of efforts to promote national exploitation of economic resources.