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The Argumentative Dimension to the EU-Africa EPAs

Lorenz-Carl, U, Hurt, SR and Lee, D (2013) The Argumentative Dimension to the EU-Africa EPAs. International Negotiation, 18 (1). pp. 67-87. ISSN 1382-340X


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Not only is the participation of developing countries in international trade negotiations growing, so is their influence over the global trade agenda. This article highlights the increasing activism and impact of African states through a detailed study of the current Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) negotiations with the European Union (EU). In examining African resistance to EPAs, the article develops a constructivist approach to North-South trade negotiations that pays close attention to the role of development discourses. We argue that the growing willingness of African states to challenge the EU to deliver on its development promises during the decade-long EPA process was crucial to informing their sustained opposition to the EU’s goal of completing a comprehensive set of sub-regional economic agreements. We document African resistance to EU trade diplomacy in the EPAs, exploring how these otherwise weak countries were able to pursue normative-based negotiation strategies by recourse to the EU’s promise of a ‘development partnership.’

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