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The New European Trade Preferences: Does 'Everything But Arms' (EBA) Help the Poor?


Written by Adrian Hewitt, Sheila Page

The EU’s offer of tariff- and quota-free access for all exports from the Least Developed Countries (for Everything but Arms) has been welcomed as part of the WTO-led initiative to assist these countries. But it is not without problems. As the Least Developed compete more with other developing countries than with the EU, trade is likely to be diverted from other, sometimes poorer, countries. (‘Least Developed’ is an official classification, not a neutral measure of poverty.) EBA contradicts and impedes the EU’s policies of reciprocity and promotion of regions: it not only creates an alternative trade regime, but seems unilaterally to break existing agreements. The article concludes that the policy was adopted for essentially political, not developmental, motives.

Sheila Page and Adrian Hewitt