European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM)
May 22, 2003
With the globalisation of the world economy, the multiplication of international agreements and the ever expending scope and depth of issues addressed, trade negotiations are representing new challenges from which developing countries are not immune. Besides their own regional integration process and the current Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, many developing countries have been negotiating preferential trade agreements with industrialised countries.
Apart from their broad coverage and technical nature, these North-South trade negotiations pose a particular problem in reason of the strong asymmetry among the players. While the industrialised entities (countries or regions) involved have plenty of capacity and generally experience in negotiating such trade agreements, the developing countries concerned are generally handicapped by insufficient resources, lack of capacity and know-how, and virtually no experience in negotiating such agreements. The effective participation of developing countries to such negotiations on North-South preferential trade agreements, as well as any other international trade negotiation for that matter, would ultimately depend on the long term development of their capacity to identify trade and development objectives, to formulate policy positions and to establish negotiation strategies.
The purpose of this paper is to identify some of the lessons that may be of interest to the ACP in their preparation for regional EPA negotiations with the EU. The main examples are taken from the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and South Africa (TDCA), in force since 2000, the experience of the Caribbean in the current FTAA negotiations and their preparation for their negotiations with the EU, and MERCOSUR (comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) experience in negotiating the FTAA and a free trade agreement with the EU. A review of these negotiations suggests that the developing countries involved in negotiations with the EU have faced some similar challenges, which the ACP are currently facing in the context of EPA negotiations.