The Lomé Convention
is a trade and aid agreement between the European Union
(EU) and 71 African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries
, first signed in February 1975
The first Lomé Convention (Lomé I), which came into force in April 1976
, was designed to provide a new framework of cooperation between the then European Community
(EC) and developing ACP countries
, in particular former British, Dutch, Belgian and French colonies. It had two main aspects. It provided for most ACP agricultural and mineral exports to enter the EC free of duty. Preferential access based on a quota system was agreed for products, such as sugar and beef, in competition with EC agriculture. Secondly, the EC committed ECU 3 billion for aid and investment
in the ACP countries.
The convention was renegotiated and renewed three times. Lomé II (January 1981 to February 1985) increased aid and investment expenditure to ECU 5.5 billion. Lomé III came into force in March 1985 (trade provisions) and May 1986 (aid), and expired in 1990; it increased commitments to ECU 8.5 billion. Lomé IV was signed in December 1989. Its trade provisions cover the ten years, 1990 to 1999. Aid and investment commitments for the first five years amounted to ECU 12 billion. In all, some 70 ACP countries are party to Lomé IV, compared with 46 signatories of Lomé I.
Lomé development aid was dispersed primarily through the European Development Fund; investment assistance was mainly channelled through the European Investment Bank. Two other important mechanisms were the Stabex and Sysmin schemes, which provided compensatory finance to ACP states for adverse fluctuations in the world prices of, respectively, key agricultural and mineral exports.
The emergence of the single European market at the end of 1992 affected ACP preferential access to EU markets. The Caribbean's many smallholder banana farmers argued for the continuation of their preferential access to traditional markets, notably Great Britain, Germany and France. They feared that otherwise the EU would be flooded with cheap bananas from the Central American plantations, with devastating effects on several Caribbean economies. Negotiations led in 1993 to the EU agreeing to maintain the Caribbean producers' preferential access until the end of Lomé IV, pending possible negotiation on an extension.
In 1995, the United States government petitioned to the World Trade Organization to investigate whether the Lomé IV convention has violated WTO rules. Then later in 1996, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, effectively ending the cross-subsidies that had benefited ACP countries for many years. But the US remained unsatisfied and insisted that all preferential trade agreements between the EU and ACP should cease. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body established another panel to discuss the issue and concluded that agreements between the EU and ACP were indeed not compatible with WTO regulations. Finally, the EU negotiated with the US through WTO to reach an agreement.
In June 2000
, after a quarter of a century of the Lomé Convention being the cornerstone of trade and aid between Europe and the developing world, a new trade and aid agreement was reached between the EU and 71 ACP countries. The treaty, which replaced Lomé IV, became known as the Cotonou Agreement
, after Cotonou
, where the convention for the agreement was held. The convention was scheduled to be held in Fiji
, but this plan had to be revised due to domestic political difficulties
The Cotonou Agreement is expected to run for 20 years. The new deal transforms the previous convention into a system of trade and cooperation pacts with individual nations. Some of the poorer ACP states will continue to enjoy virtually free access to European markets and there will be regional free trade agreements between the EU and better-off developing countries. The Cotonou Agreement has been criticised for moving from partnership, to excessive and unhelpful conditionality
upon ACP countries
The ACP countries the Lomé Convention initially helped were economically hindered as the Cotonou Agreement was not particularly advantageous to the ACP countries.
- Isebill V. Gruhn, “The Lomé Convention: Inching Toward Interdependence,” International Organization 30 (Spring 1976): 240–262.
- John Ravenhill, “What Is to Be Done for the Third World Commodity Exporters? An Evaluation of the STABEX Scheme,” International Organization 38 (Summer 1984): 537–574.
- Carol C. Twitchett, “Lomé II Signed,” Atlantic Community Quarterly 18 (Spring 1980): 85–89.
- Jonathan Fryer, “The New Lomé Convention: Marriage on the Rocks but No Separation,” International Development Review 1 (1980): 53–54.