The 76 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are under considerable pressure by the European Union to finalise Free Trade Agreements (under the heading of Economic Partnership Agreements or EPAs) by the end of 2007. According to the EU these EPAs should include not only the liberalisation of commodity trade but also regulatory commitments on investments, competition, public procurement, services and trade related intellectual property rights. These additional agreements are either going beyond obligations assumed at the multilateral level of the World Trade Organization (WTO) or new issues already rejected by developing countries at the WTO. This paper analyses the costs and benefits of EPAs in the light of the South African free trade experiences with the EU.
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