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THE EFFECTS AND CHALLENGES OF THE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT IN ECOWAS EUROPEAN UNION TRADE RELATIONS

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Relations between West Africa and Europe have been ongoing for several centuries. This has had its different phases, including the trans-Saharan trade, pre-trans-Atlantic slave trade period (1400 AD), the slave trade period (1500-1800 AD), the colonial enterprise period (1900- 1960 AD), and the post-colonial period (1960 to date). These relations had metamorphosed during these different phases from that of slave supplier and slave buyer, colony and colonial master, and increasingly into one of partnership between West Africa and Europe. Trade, or exchange of commodities, predominates in the different phases, and to date Europe remains West Africa‘s foremost trading partner with some of the trade patterns in the past still reflecting on the present.

However, in the decades following political independence of the colonies trade relations between them and Europe had been increasingly captured in formalized agreements. These formal agreements have different aspects, but trade-related issue is the main pillar for the simple reason that it is the foremost phenomenon in the relations between the two partners (Laporte, 2007:xv). Trade issues in these agreements in the pre-1995 cold war period had been characterized by the special preferences the EU gave to its unequal ACP partners that were located in the developing and least-developed (LDC) regions of the world. Many of these preferences were contrary to free trade principles as found in the classic mercantile/liberal economy lexicon. But they continued due to the exigencies of the cold war climate of international politics at the time.

Since the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, made possible by the Western-dominated unipolar political, economic and security arrangements of the post-cold war era, the focus of EU in its trade relations/agreements with the ACP region has included compliance with the mandatory WTO‘s free trade/market principles through measures such as trade liberalization, privatization, removal of tariff, tax reforms, reciprocity, as well as the facilitation of regional integration of the economies of its trade partners for further integration into the global economy. This is for the purpose of ultimately making trade relations between ACP and EU compatible with basic principles of western-dominated global economy policed by the WTO (European Commission, 2014). Across the globe, the need to comply with the new free trade arrangement since 1995 had equally spurred a rush of free trade agreements (e.g. North Atlantic Free Trade Area- NAFTA; Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), while the version between ACP regions (including ECOWAS region) and EU is tagged the ―Economic Partnership Agreement‖ (EPA).

Statement of the Problem

This study investigates how the Economic Partnership Agreement has featured in ECOWAS-European Union trade relations and the challenges this has posed in the period between the year 2000 and 2014. Central to the investigation are the reasons ECOWAS and the EU endorse free trade principles under WTO and these have informed their relations in diverse ways from the year 2000, while agreeing on the modality (i.e. EPA text, 2014) for carrying the process forward has become problematic. Since the negotiations of the EPA began in 2003 issues such as market

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Updated: 30th January 2019 — 11:30 am

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