Commonwealth Trade Hot Topics

The Trade Hot Topics series provides concise and informative analyses of various trade and trade-related issues which are prepared both by Commonwealth Secretariat and international experts.


Coherence in trade policy

The case of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)

No government ever has complete uniformity in its policies in the sense that each and every policy aims to achieve the same broad goals. Governments have multiple objectives and so complete policy coherence in any field is almost impossible. Even achieving a more modest but desirable goal of policies that are complementary rather than contradictory and directed at a country's development priorities is a challenge. Often the goal is not achieved, sometimes because of competing objectives and interests, and sometimes because of pressure from the external environment. The continuing negotiations between the EU and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) has provided one of the most striking examples of ‘external pressure’ on policy coherence. Despite reaching a crescendo at the end of 2007 the negotiations are far from finished, not least because of the need to remove domestic and regional incoherences. This issue of Trade Hot Topics uses the EPA example to illustrate more general issues of achieving policy coherence.


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