Caribbean Political Economy

ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (EPA)

In October 2008 the CARIFORUM group of countries signed an ‘Economic Partnership Agreement’ (EPA) with the European Union. CARIFORUM is a group of 15 countries, 14 of which are members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the fifteenth is the Dominican Republic. The EPA occasioned much controversy within CARICOM countries with academics, officials, government leaders, and civil society engaging in spirited public exchanges over the pros and cons of the agreement. This blog was one of the principal critics and became a focal point for the efforts of civil society to secure public review of the EPA and its renegotiation. It records much of the information not readily available elsewhere on technical critiques of the EPA from the standpoint of Caribbean development, integration and independence. There are also technical analyses of issues such as services and investment, rules of origin, gender impact and others. Media commentaries and civil society declarations on the EPA give a sense of the politics of the EPA. The information should be useful to researchers, students, educators, journalists, civil society activists and government officials.

For the full text of the EPA including annexes, liberalisation schedules, protocols and joint declarations go to CARIFORUM-EPA Economic Partnership Agreement on the EU website.

For an overview of the scope and content of the EPA have a look at my The EPA: A Critical Evaluation.

For a concise analysis of the shortcomings of the EPA as a means of promoting Caribbean economic development,   look at Havelock Brewster’s The Anti-Development Dimension of the EPA.

Clive Thomas’s Caricom Perspectives on the EPA assesses the costs and benefits of the EPA and sets it in the context of the political economy of EU-Caribbean relations.

My own lecture A Fork In The Road argues that the EPA will pre-empt completion of the CSME and the realisation of CARICOM’s ‘Single Development Vision’.

Other reviews of the EPA in its totality and related articles are also posted in the category Critical Reviews.

Anothercategory of EPA postings — Sectors, Subjects and Issues--contains technical analyses of specific sectors covered by the agreement and their implications. It includes papers on such subjects as services and investment, intellectual property protection, government procurement, competition policy, rules of origin, legal questions including ratification and gender issues (this list is not exhaustive).

The category called simply Commentaries contains relatively short opinion pieces on the EPA, including commentaries and observations of the critics and responses from the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM). We also have items on other EPAs in Africa and FTAs in Latin America that were being debated at he same time as the CARIFORUM EPA; and the conclusions of the European Parliament on the development impact of the EPA when giving its approval.

Finally, the category on Civil Society and the EPA records the open letters and petitions mounted by CARICOM civil society to have the EPA subjected to public review and, ultimately, to renegotiation. The most recent posting in this category lists over 300 items appearing mainly in the CARICOM media at the height of the controversy over the EPA in 2007 and 2008.

If you want to be regularly updated on developments concerning the CARIFORUM-EC EPA and its implementation, and on the progress,   of the EPA negotiations in Africaand the Pacific, register with,   http://lists.pambazuka.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/c-epas. And for monitoring free trade agreements globally including the WTO the best source I know of is www.bilaterals.org