The Cotonou agreement between the ACP countries and the EU focused on the integration of ACP countries into the global economy and compliance with WTO rules, but gradually through a series of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Unlike a standard free trade agreement in which several countries agree to reduce trade barriers, such as tariffs between them, EPAs take into account the different levels of development of ACP and EU countries when setting tariffs. They also provide EU aid for the development of economic infrastructure in the ACP countries, while allowing the phasing out of non-reciprocal trade preferences. ACP countries have a long history of cooperation with the EU, which consists, from 2010, of more than two dozen European countries with integrated economic activities, including a single currency, no internal tariffs and the free movement of goods and people between Member States. Beginning in 1975, under the Lomé Conventions, the ACP states and the EU entered into a number of non-reciprocal trade agreements aimed at protecting acp countries` endangered economies from low-cost European imports, while granting them preferential access to their products on the European market without having to pay tariffs or meet quotas. Proponents of economic partnership agreements argue that the agreement will benefit all parties in the same way in the long run. By removing barriers to trade and people, each economy in the agreement can take advantage of the other benefits of the market. In addition to economic ties, economic partnerships can strengthen political relations and provide strong allies in times of political upheaval or military action. In this context, a first WTO waiver was granted to the EU in 1996, which expired in 2000. A request for an extension of this waiver was made in 2001 in parallel with the launch of the WTO Doha Round, after much discussion, until 31 on the condition that Cotonou`s discriminatory trade regime be replaced by WTO-only trade rules in favour of ACP countries, i.e. free trade agreements (i.e. EPAs) , a non-discriminatory and arbitrary preferential regime for developing countries (i.e.
the generalised preferential system – GSP) or non-preferential treatment (i.e. trade under the most favoured nation -MFN – clause of the WTO) is this time compatible with WTO rules. The Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) is made up of 79 nations that signed the Georgetown Agreement in 1975 to promote development cooperation between the two groups. Many ACP countries fall into the United Nations least developed category, indicating that nations in the international community are most in need of assistance because of poverty, quality of life and economic vulnerability. Negotiations on economic partnership agreements can take years to conclude. The agreements address a detailed set of issues that all need to be balanced in order to bring benefits to all parties.