Given their heavy dependence on exports, African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries hope that the EPAs will help them to maintain, or even improve, their access to the European market for all goods, and for agricultural commodities in particular. But there is a wide gap between theory and practice.
Will the agrifood chain be able to face the European competition?
Trade of the majority of goods is going to be liberalised. Local production sectors will face stiff competition on their domestic market, unless sensitive agricultural products are exempt from trade liberalisation, unless they improve their competitiveness and unless the EU withdraws subsidies that affect product prices.
Will the regions emerge from the EPA negotiations stronger or weaker?
After a year of negotiation, the ACP and EU countries agreed, in October 2003, to proceed with the negotiation work between the European Commission and each of the six regions chosen for the conclusion of an EPA. Road maps towards accelerated regional integration were drawn up during this phase.
What will be the EPAs impact on public budgets and tax systems?
In preparation for EPA implementation, several impact studies were conducted and these show a heavy loss in tax revenues for the ACP countries. Reforms must be made with a view to convert customs duties into an internal taxation. The European Union is ready to support this transition.