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The European Commission has threatened 76 of the world’s poorest countries with lower access to the EU market – if they fail to sign new trade deals known as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) by the end of 2007, when their current market access preferences expire. But the threats are not justified: in the event that African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) nations are not ready to sign by the end of the year, the European Union could still continue to provide them with a high level of market access, using the GSP-plus scheme, without breaching World Trade Organization rules. This level of market access would also be compatible with their developmental needs.

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