tralac Annual Conference 2005: EPA Conference
tralac held its Annual Conference on 13 and 14 October 2005 in Cape Town on the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and their impact on African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
tralac’s Annual Conference provides an opportunity to engage with key stakeholders and experts on key trade issues for countries in southern and eastern Africa by bringing together international trade lawyers and economists, policymakers and practitioners with specialist expertise on trade issues for the region.
Countries in the region have recently begun to negotiate Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union (EU). EPAs will irrevocably transform the relationship of these countries with the EU, and will have important implications for the region. The extensive coverage of EPAs – including development provisions – bring both significant opportunities and challenges. Key negotiating opportunities will be discussed, as will the challenge of negotiating development provisions that will assist countries to enhance their capacity to trade and ensure that trade contributes to their development priorities.
Two groups of countries in southern and eastern Africa have formed negotiating configurations – the SADC Group and the ESA Group. These configurations themselves raise important questions about one of the stated objectives of EPAs – the promotion of regional integration. The legal and economic challenges implicit in the current regional groups with extensive overlapping membership were discussed.
The Conference also assessed the current wave of analytical interest in regional integration, supported by the impetus of the EPA negotiations, and provided an opportunity to assess:
Current and future regional configurations
The regional integration agenda, to identify strategy and implementation challenges
Issues of regional economic governance (including domestic regulatory reform, regional market governance, regional treaties and protocols, international agreements) for eastern and southern Africa