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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 8: The SADC EPA: a driver of development?

A Critical Assessment of the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement

Clair Gammage

Extract

Chapter 8 provides a critical and factual presentation of the full EPA signed between the EU and the SADC EPA states in June 2016. From the outset, it was clear that the success of the EPA negotiations would hinge on the convergence between institutionalised legal norms at the WTO level (Article XXIV compatibility) and the EU’s normative preferences expressed through its external trade policy in relation to trade and development.1 Overall, the perceived desirability of the EPA would be elicited from a good discursive fit between the ideational preferences of the EU and the Southern African countries. Through an analysis of the negotiations, it will be shown that the rhetorical argumentation that took place in this discursive space enabled the Southern African negotiators to reinforce the importance of the development dimensions of the EPA. An interesting approach adopted by the SADC EPA countries, and other ACP states, has been a form of rhetorical action known as ‘mimetic challenge’.2 Through normative argumentation, these countries have harnessed the EU’s rhetoric of the EPAs as ‘drivers of development’ to strategically direct the negotiations toward development objectives. The contentious issues raised in the negotiation phase will be discussed with particular reference to the MFN clause, infant industry protection, and the dispute settlement mechanism. This chapter will identify the potential interpretive difficulties that might arise on implementation and provide an overview of the implications this could have for the development potential of the SADC EPA states. 1 T. Heron, ‘Trading in Development: Norms and Institutions in the Making/Unmaking of European-African, Caribbean, Pacific Trade and Development Cooperation’ (2014) 20 Contemporary Politics 11. 2 S. Hurt, D. Lee and U. Lorenz-Carl, ‘The Argumentative Dimension to the EU-Africa EPAs’ (2013) 18 International Negotiation 67–87.

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