From the Lome Convention to the Economic Partnership Agreements: an assessment of trade relations between the ECOWAS and the EU

Abstract The continuous negotiations between the EU and the ECOWAS on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) started in September 2002, with an aim of completing these negotiations before end of December 2007, which was set up by the EU. The essence of the EPA is to replace the longstanding preferential trade that allowed the ACP countries to export their goods to the EU market without reciprocating. Since, preferential trade was not compatible with the World Trade Organisation rules. This study examines the negotiation process between the EU and the ECOWAS, with an aim of examining whether the proposed EPAs would stimulate regional integration in West Africa or it would undermine it. This study is an attempt to show how the EU has intended to foster this agreement in the region through its various offensive strategies, and it explores responses by West African states. The ECOWAS region is negotiating the EPAs with an intention of achieving a development focused trade agreement that is going to take into account developmental challenges of the region. In addition, it has become clear that Nigeria is not prepared to sign the interim EPAs with the EU; instead, it is working hard to ensure that the EPAs have a development dimension attached to it. Subsequently, this would mean that regional collective interests are promoted under the EPAs in order to ensure that development achieved in West Africa is not reversed.