But it is as pyrric a victory as anyone else, because the premature opening of markets leads to African agricultural and non-agricultural production which finds it very difficult to compete with the probably cheaper, perhaps better, qualities and an even greater supply of goods and services from European countries. At their fair value and thanks to commendable negotiating skills, negotiators from different African countries have been able to exclude a number of subsidized agricultural products and sensitive industries from the negative elements of THE EPO`s market liberalization. Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are legally binding bilateral agreements between the European Union and some African countries. After the signing, wpA guarantees that within a decade, about 80% of the country`s market should be open to European goods and services. Controversial Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are once again on the agenda, with several African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states facing a further loss of market access if they do not ratify their EPAs by October 1, 2016. What complicates matters further is that Brexit has introduced a degree of uncertainty and led some ACP countries to reconsider their decision to sign EPAs. EPAs represent a general change in trade relations between the EU and ACP countries: not only do they introduce reciprocity into trade preferences, but they are also organised on a regional basis to promote regional integration within ACP countries. This paper updates the various epaE processes and examines the extent to which they have actually achieved the EU`s stated objective of promoting regionalism in ACP countries, as well as the alignment of EPAs with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the debate on the future of cooperation ENTRE the EU and ACP countries. The EPAs have only partially enabled regional integration in ACP countries. The EPA negotiations resulted in regional agreements compatible with existing integration initiatives in only three regions: the Caribbean, the East African Community (EAC) and West Africa. The EPAs have acted as a “centre woman” for further integration in these regions, but it is possible that West African EPAs and EPAs will not be signed before October.
In the other regions – the Pacific Ocean, Central Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – EPAs have complicated the prospects for regional integration and, in some cases, contributed to a “lock-in” of fragmented regionalism. One of the reasons for this mixed record is the tension between the cpA principles of “regionalization”, which recognize the importance of regional integration for development; and `differentiation`, which calls for different treatment of states based on their level of development. EpAs were intended to encourage groups of states to sign agreements as regional blocs, but the EU`s “Everything but Arms” (EBA) system undermines regional EPAs by not offering reciprocal trade preferences to least developed countries (LDCs). This divides acp regions into least developed countries, not LDCs, making it difficult to conclude regional EPAs. Given the continuing fight for regional EPAs and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the EU should consider extending the deadline of 1 October to give ACP countries more time to reconsider their positions and work towards greater harmonisation of regional relations. Given that regional integration is essential to the economic development of ACP countries, future cooperation should be aware of the need for closer cooperation of EPAs, the SDGs and the objective of regional integration.