By 2002, EC was already in more than 50 out of about 172 such arrangements around the globe thus maintain economic and trade relations with a myriad of economies in the developed, developing and even less developed economies. The EU has been keen as a positive force to generate economic prosperity for its member states.
To the developing economies, EC has maintained preferential trade arrangements under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) while to most less developed countries, trade arrangements have largely been guided by the Cotonou Agreement, which succeeded the Lome’ Convention (Bhagwati, Greenaway, & Panagariya, 1998, p.1128-1148). EU’s trade arrangement within the Euro zone encompasses a common currency, common external tariff, common agricultural and competition policies as well as common rules on freedom of goods and services, capital and people. EU has entered into other trade agreements with countries and regions in other continents of the world.
Among these is the European Economic Area (EEA) that extends the EU market to three countries, which are members of the EFTA . Another arrangement is the Customs Unions with countries such as Malta, Cyprus and Turkey. EU has also got several Free Trade Area (FTA) arrangements with a number of countries and regions around the world, but these are at different implementation levels. These include countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, and Morocco under the Euro-Mediterranean Association, while Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Mexico and Chile are under the FTA arrangement among others. There is also the Mediterranean partnership where EU relates with several associates in the southern and Eastern Mediterranean. This particular trade arrangement aims to achieve FTA in line with provisions of the WTO through entering into various bilateral agreements starting with a series of association agreements. It also aimed at the expansion of the EU financial assistance to USD 4.7 billion over a period of 5 years from 1995 within EU-Mediterranean partnership. The ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) preference is another set of trade arrangements by the EU where it provides one way trade preferences for more than seventy countries in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific. These preferences are, however, not available to all developed countries in these regions and do not also apply to only least developed economies, for example. Thus, contravene the provision of the WTO regarding discriminatory practices, equity and fairness (Devisscher, 2011, p. 60). As per the United Nations rankings, 39 of the ACP economies are under the least developed category. Finally, GSP preferences by EU to a number of least developed countries exist as stipulated under the GSP provisions of the WTO. The EU’s GSP arrangement contains the ‘Everything but Arms’ (EBA) initiative for the least developed economies as well as general arrangements that are available to all developing countries and apply to non-sensitive products that come duty free. There are also the special arrangements under the Environmental and Social clauses, which apply to sensitive products only. Special incentives under the environmental clause apply to developing countr