Trade and regional integration
- Aid for trade
- Regional integration
- Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)
- Private sector development
- EU-Africa Business Forum
Europeaid coordinates closely with the Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade) to define the EU's trade relationship with developing countries and is is responsible for implementing aid programmes related to trade and regional integration.
The importance of trade as a factor for development and growth is becoming more and more evident. The success of East Asian countries like South Korea and Taiwan shows that, if accompanied by the proper flanking policies and if used correctly, trade policies can provide opportunities for promoting economic development and tackling poverty reduction.
As the world's largest single market and the largest importer of products from ACP countries, the EU has a particular responsibility in helping these countries to make the most of trade for development.
The Cotonou Partnership Agreement, is the basic text guiding the EU-ACP trade cooperation.
The EU has been using its autonomous trade policy tools for the benefit of developing countries. For many years, it has operated the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), a preferential market access scheme that is extended to all developing countries and gives them duty-free quota-free access for the vast majority of their exports to the EU market.
The "GSP Plus" provides additional market access to particularly vulnerable developing countries that had ratified and implemented a number of core international conventions on human rights, labour rights, good governance and environmental protection.
In addition, since 2001, the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative has eliminated all duties and quotas for all products (save arms) originating in Least Developed Countries (i.e. 39 out of 79 ACP countries). The EU was the first developed market bloc to do so.
To enable developing countries to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the aid for trade is essential. While the traditional vision was limited to technical assistance for the elaboration and implementation of trade policy and for export promotion, there has been growing realisation that a broader perspective was needed. This vision, which now encompasses trade-related infrastructure, trade-related assistance and private sector development, was jointly expressed by the Commission and EU Member States in the EU Aid-for-Trade strategy that was adopted in October 2007.
In this context, private sector development has been a focus of our development policy. As markets are progressively opened, it becomes even more vital to make business more competitive, to allow them to weather the competitive pressure of global markets but also to take advantage of the opportunities.
With regard to ACP countries, the need for them to integrate progressively and smoothly into the world economy is also the reason why regional integration and Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are such a prominent aspect of EU-ACP cooperation. The EPAs, which have been negotiated with ACP regions since 2002, are more than classic free trade agreements. They are designed as instruments to improve the business environment and to build up regional markets, and to foster good economic governance through reinforced regional cooperation in a range of trade-related areas.
Finally, our policy on trade for development puts a special emphasis on commodities. These have long been the main specialisation of ACP countries in global trade. Cooperation between the EU and the ACP countries on this issue therefore focuses on the need to stabilise revenue stemming from commodities and to diversify the economy.