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North-South Regional Trade Agreements as Legal Regimes

A Critical Assessment of the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement

Clair Gammage

This book offers a critical reflection of the North-South regional trade agreements (RTAs), known as the Economic Partnership Agreements, negotiated between the EU and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries. Conceiving of regions as legal regimes, Clair Gammage highlights the challenges facing developing countries when negotiating RTAs with developed countries and interrogates the assumption that these agreements will and can promote sustainable development through trade.
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Chapter 2: Regional trade agreements as legal regimes

A Critical Assessment of the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement

Clair Gammage

Extract

Chapter 2 provides a critical assessment of the legal bases for regionalism enshrined in the multilateral rules. Article XXIV of the GATT 1994 provides the legal basis for creating regional agreements, where at least one member of the regional group is a developing country. It permits derogation from the principles of MFN and non-discrimination on the assumption that trade will be increased by promoting the regional interdependence of countries, through customs unions and free trade areas. Regionalism has, therefore, been conceptualised as a means towards economic freedom, through closer integration between Members. Although the jurisprudence relating to Article XXIV is limited, it does offer some insight into the interpretive dimension of this provision and suggests a gradual ‘legalisation’ and rationalisation of Article XXIV.1 It will be argued that this process of rationalisation seals off the potential for alternative forms of integration schemes to emerge and, in doing so, promotes the neoliberal paradigm of regionalism. 1 J. Mathis, ‘The “Legalization” of GATT Article XXIV – Can Foes Become Friends?’ in K. Bagwell and P. Mavroidis (eds), Preferential Trade Agreements: A Law and Economics Analysis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

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