Tracing the Special and Differential Treatment Principle through the CARIFORUM EPA
The EU's decision to replace unilateral Lomé preferences with Article XXIV-compliant reciprocal agreements remains a subject of ongoing debate in trade circles. The major issue stems from the inequality of bilateral negotiations between the world's largest bloc of industrial countries and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) group of states, which includes LDCs and other vulnerable developing countries. The EPA process is not the first time that highly unequal negotiations have taken place under Article XXIV. It is however the first time that LDCs are involved, a challenge that is compounded because the ACP group neither initiated nor supported the change in relations. The assertion that EPAs would be trade and development agreements suggested that Special and Differential Treatment (SDT) would be a pillar of ensuing negotiations. But legally, Article XXIV does not acknowledge SDT. The extent to which SDT would ultimately inform the final agreements was thus unclear. Turning to EU-CARIFORUM, the only accomplished comprehensive agreement to date, we ask how well the EPA process preserves the possibility to revert to WTO SDT clauses. The insights may serve as points of reflection for ongoing negotiations as well as implementation.