chapter  29
13 Pages

The African Union and the European Union

Trade reciprocity and/or economic development?
WithMark Langan

The European Union has increasingly engaged the African Union (AU) on matters of trade and economic development. This chapter examines the parallel negotiations for Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTAs) in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the Maghreb respectively. In doing so, it draws attention to the ways in which the European Commission has constructed a ‘moral economy’ of trade liberalization in its negotiations both north and south of the Sahara. In both instances discourse surrounding ‘win-win’ trade, trickle-down growth, job creation and sustainable development has been deployed in the legitimization of free trade agendas. The chapter examines, however, how the ostensible development norms embedded in the EPA/DCFTA negotiations are materially transgressed in terms of outcomes for domestic private sector and workers in SSA and the Maghreb. It illustrates how premature trade liberalization will in fact lock African countries into asymmetric and neocolonial patterns of production and exchange. Accordingly, the chapter considers how the AU might deploy a counter-hegemonic discourse to challenge the imposition of regressive trade deals within the African continent. In so doing, it recalls the work of Kwame Nkrumah, the founding President of an independent Ghana, who warned that African countries would have to unite on a continental basis in order to combat the ‘collective colonialism’ of the European project.