Trade Relations Between EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries: With or Without Economic Partnership Agreements?
Purpose: The article aims to present the benefits and costs for ACP countries of the conclusion of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and of the implementation of trade liberalisation thereunder, in the light of their trade relations with the European Union Member States. Design/Methodology/Approach: The article employs an analytical and descriptive method. Empirical (indirect observation and description) and general methods, including deduction and induction, were used to achieve the aim of the study. It draws on sources from the national and international literature, secondary legislation of the European Union in the form of regulations as well as on EUROSTAT statistics. Findings: The analysis produced no unambiguous results, but they do indicate that the answer to the above question depends on the economic situation (status) of the country concerned (in this regard, the group of ACP Countries is very diversified). As regards LDCs, the ‘no EPA’ option seems to be the most favourable, whereas non-LDCs would benefit from an EPA due to the fact that if EPA is not signed, the EU “makes a threat” of suspending preferences, and this means worse EU market access conditions for these countries. Practical Implications: Practical implications for entities involved in trade with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and initiating further research to examine the situation of the ACP countries, the progress of EPA negotiations and their consequences. Originality/value: Performing a critical analysis of provisions contained in economic partnership agreements made by the European Union with the ACP countries and demonstrating that such agreements serve mainly the purpose of defending the EU’s interests, but not the interests of the ACP countries, moreover, identifying weaknesses, opportunities and threats concerning the agreements in question (a SWOT analysis).