Liberalisation of trade and investment relations is at the heart of the new partnership agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries (ACP), the so-called Cotonou-Agreement, that was signed in July 2000. In September 2002, the EU and ACP will begin formal negotiations on new trade agreements, the so-called "Economic Partnership Agreements" (EPAs) which shall enter into force by January 2008 at the latest. Both the EU and the ACP countries have laid down their preparatory activities in a Joint Action Plan. According to this Action Plan, the ACP group is currently assessing the impact of the proposed Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU. Based on the outcome of these studies the ACP countries will then decide upon the regional configuration in which they will enter into negotiations with the EU. A final decision on the regional configuration is expected by the end of 2001. In addition, the ACP studies will contribute to the preparation of the ACP negotiating mandate. The drafting of the negotiating mandates will start in November 2001 within the ACP group and in December 2001 within the EU Commission and be concluded in June 2002 and July 2002, respectively.
The workshop aimed to discuss joint political strategies among NGOs for the process of EU-ACP trade negotiations and to develop clear recommendations and expectations in time to be considered in the drafting of the EU negotiating mandate. Discussions, among others, focused on the impact of liberalisation in EU trade and investment policies on ACP countries and regions. In particular, the social and ecological consequences of such liberalisation policies were discussed. Participants took stock of the experiences with already existing trade and investment agreements with countries in the South (e.g. the recent EU free trade agreements with Mexico and South Africa).
For more information on the impacts of trade liberalisation see the brochure Lessons Learned? The Impact of Trade Liberalisation Policies on Countries and Regions in the South.
The documentation of this workshop is available as PDF-download.