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Monday, 15 July 2013

The EU's free trade agreements – where are we?

A key priority for the EU is to open up more market opportunities for European business by negotiating new Free Trade Agreements with key countries, a recent European Commission press release reads. The EU has eleven trade negotiations actively under way and several more trade and development negotiations (EPAs) ongoing. It is approximated that if it were to complete all its current free trade talks tomorrow, the EU would add 2.2% to its GDP (or €275 billion).
For the ACP countries, the ones of most interest are the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). They are trade and development partnerships between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP), based on the Cotonou Agreement (2000). EPA negotiations started in 2002 and have now been concluded with three regions, which have initialled (and then signed and ratified) an agreement: the Caribbean (CARIFORUM), the Pacific (the only country currently involved is Papua New Guinea), and Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA - Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Madagascar, the Seychelles).
Negotiations are in a decisive phase in the Eastern African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) EPA Group. Progress is uneven in the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.
There are also five Economic Partnership Agreements with African, Caribbean and Pacific States that have been negotiated but they have not yet entered into force. These are: Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroon, the Southern African Development Community, Ghana, and the Eastern African Community.
Besides the EPAs with the ACP countries, the EU is currently involved in on-going negotiations for several other trade agreements, with: Japan, Canada, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), India, Southern Mediterranean, the Eastern Neighbourhood (Armenia and Georgia), Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela), and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The EU has just started or is expected to start negotiations with: the United States of America (17 June 2013), and China (May 2013). Some negotiation which are already finished but have not yet been applied are the ones with: Moldova; Ukraine; Singapore; Colombia; Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama).
Moreover, the EU has 28 trade agreements already in place. These include the FTA with South Africa, which was completed in 2012.

Source: European Commission

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