The Cariforum-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is a permanent instrument of the trade partnership between CARIFORUM and the EC. It replaces the trade component of Lomé IV and its successor, Cotonou (2000). It is more than a free trade agreement (FTA), as it contains a strong component of development, with clear links with development aid for the adaptation and modernization of the Cariforum economies. The recent failure of the Doha Round once again highlights the weakness of international trade negotiations. Similarly, the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the CarIFORUM network and the European Union (EU) has given rise to many discussions and debates in recent months. What became clear was the existence of two diametrically opposed views on the impact and usefulness of the agreement. One view is that the EPA is an important step forward in trade relations, which will greatly benefit the region. On the other hand, some see it as a detriment to the region and perhaps a total capitulation of CARIFORUM to the EU. They argue that resurrecting World Trade Organisation (WTO) policies and circumventing obstacles in Doha is part of an overall EU strategy.

During this debate, both sides try to support their views by referring to the text of the agreement. The aim of this review is to shed light on the issues that feed into this debate, particularly in the areas of market access, the impact on customs revenues and the impact on regional integration. This revision also attempts to clarify and distill some of the main contentious issues related to the EPA and to integrate them into the subsequent discussion on an implementation plan. The approach is based on a detailed study of the text of the EPA and its annexes, as well as in-depth discussions with some of the main negotiators on the CarIFORUM page. The interviews were conducted both in their personal capacity and on the Internet, as many of the regional negotiating acts live or work outside the region. The critic also participated in presentations and discussions with some of the main regional critics of the agreement. On 16 December 2007, an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was concluded between CARIFORUM (Caricom and the Dominican Republic) and the European Community (EC). This is the culmination of three years of formal negotiations between the parties. Significant changes in trade, investment and related policies have profound and significant economic repercussions, but they do so gradually over time, with several cross-cutting effects. The impact of the EPA on the Cariforum states will be particularly broad (due to its broad scope) and will be long (since it will be implemented over 25 years).

This report focuses on the likely early effects and their effects on European Union (EU) policy, both because these currently have the highest development priority and because the scale and magnitude of the subsequent effects (and a lot of ground research) will take time to accurately assess. . . .