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Economic partnership between Eastern and Southern Africa States

The provisional application and the conclusion of an interim agreement establishing a framework for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) should guarantee stable and mutually profitable trade relations with six Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) States.


Proposal for a Council Decision on the signature and provisional application of the interim agreement establishing a framework for an Economic Partnership Agreement between Eastern and Southern Africa States on the one part and the European Community and its Member States, on the other part.


The European Union and the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) States have agreed on the provisional application of the interim agreement establishing a framework for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

When the interim agreement enters into force, five of the ESA countries, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe, will be covered by the guarantee of a harmonised trade regime. They will be listed in Council Regulation 1528/2007 on the application of regimes provided for under Economic Partnership Agreements. However, Zambia did not table a European Union market access offer. This State continues to benefit from the Everything But Arms (EBA) regime, that implies the total suspension of Common Customs Tariff duties for all products, with the exception of arms and munitions.

The signature of an EPA was made necessary by the expiry in 2007 of the regime provided for by the Cotonou Agreement, on the safeguard clauses relating to trade measures, as well as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) waiver covering that regime. The EPA covers many areas targeted by the Cotonou Agreement. It generates stability for trade until a comprehensive EPA has been concluded.

This agreement provides the measures necessary to establish a Free Trade Area compatible with WTO requirements. Several products have been excluded from this liberalisation in order to protect the most sensitive sectors or emerging industries in these States.

These provisions concern in particular:

  • rules of origin;
  • non-tariff measures;
  • trade defence measures;
  • trade dispute avoidance and settlement;
  • fisheries and development;
  • administrative and institutional cooperation.

The agreement is to be implemented in line with ESA development strategies, and the partners undertake to cooperate to strengthen the regional integration process of African countries. The scope of the interim agreement will be extended according to the results of negotiations concerning the comprehensive EPA.

An EPA committee made up of party representatives should be established and will be responsible for monitoring the matters covered by the agreement.


The conclusion of this interim agreement took place in several stages. Agreements were signed on 28 November 2007 with Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe, on 4 December 2007 with Mauritius and on 11 December 2007 with Comoros and Madagascar. This agreement is open to participation from all other States in the Eastern and Southern Africa region.

Negotiations with a view to concluding a comprehensive agreement have been continuing since 7 February 2004 with the ESA States, in line with the Directives adopted by the Council on 12 June 2002. Ministers from the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region and representatives of the Commission of the European Union, meeting in Brussels on 28 February 2007, gave joint conclusions on the state of these negotiations.



Official Journal


COM(2008) 863 final




Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 23 October 2007 on Economic Partnership Agreements [COM(2007) 635 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Further information can be obtained from the website of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for External Trade.

Last updated: 28.02.2009
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