The ACP countries and the European Union after the Uruguay Round 1
Adrian Hewitt and Antonique Koning
Former colonies of the member states of the European Union (EU) have enjoyed preferential access into the EU market since the creation of the European Economic Community in 1957. Moreover, since 1975 successive Lomé Conventions have committed this specially privileged group of countries which now consists of seventy African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states, and the European Union to achieving a ‘better balance of trade’. Although that is a somewhat hazy concept, if one were to attempt to target the overall merchandise trade balance of seventy developing and now fifteen EU states combined, the thinking behind the concept as originally set out in the mid-1970s is at least clear. It aims at promoting and diversifying ACP exports to the EU market and at decreasing ACP dependency on primary exports. Since the Lomé Convention arrangements are hybrid, it was hoped to achieve this by means of aid provisions and non-reciprocal trade preferences. Nowadays, one may wonder what the meaning of such a commitment is in an international trade environment which is increasingly oriented towards trade liberalisation—as has been clearly marked by the completion of the Uruguay Round—rather than to preferential and discriminatory trade agreements such as the Lomé Convention.
In this chapter an analysis is made of the effects of the Uruguay Round on ACP exports to the European Union and other markets, with a special emphasis on the effects on their preferential access to these former markets. In order to understand these effects better, however, we start with an assessment of the Lomé trade preferences and their effects on ACP trade performance. In the final part of this chapter some conclusions will be drawn on the prospects and challenges which ACP exporters face under the regime of the new World Trade Organization (WTO).