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The EU negotiates trade agreements to strengthen our economy and create jobs.

EU trade agreements help us do that in two ways. They enable European businesses to compete more effectively and export more to countries and regions outside the EU. They also give better access to raw materials and vital components from around the world.

This increase in trade then grows the economy, meaning that more jobs are created. It also gives consumers a wider choice of products at lower prices.

EU trade agreements also require partner governments to protect human rights, labour rights and the environment. For example, partners commit to tackling issues like safety and gender equality in the workplace.

Trade negotiations in a nutshell

With EU trade deals, we aim to tackle things that get in the way of trade with other countries.

Depending on the agreement, partner governments in other parts of the world commit to a series of measures. These might include:

  • removing or cutting customs duties (taxes) on goods that European companies export
  • scrapping any limits (quotas) on the amounts EU firms can export
  • allowing EU businesses to provide services and bid for public contracts
  • cutting red tape which makes it harder for EU firms to export, without cutting corners on things like health and safety standards or environmental protection.

The EU negotiates trade deals either directly with other countries or regions, or through its membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Agreements finalised but not yet applied

  • Canada - Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), end of negotiations 14 September 2016
  • East African Countries (EAC) – Interim Economic Partnership Agreement , end of negotiations, 16 October 2014
  • Singapore – Free Trade Agreements, initialled on 17 October 2014
  • Vietnam – Free Trade Agreement, negotiations concluded on 1 February 2016
  • West Africa – Economic Partnership Agreement, initialling, 10 July 2014

The trade agreements already in place

There are three main types of agreement:

  1. Customs Unions
    • eliminate customs duties in bilateral trade
    • establish a joint customs tariff for foreign importers.
  2. Association Agreements, Stabilisation Agreements, (Deep and Comprehensive) Free Trade Agreements and Economic Partnership Agreements
    • remove or reduce customs tariffs in bilateral trade.
  3. Partnership and Cooperation Agreements
    • provide a general framework for bilateral economic relations
    • leave customs tariffs as they are
  • Algeria - Association Agreement, 1 September 2005
  • Egypt - Association Agreement, 1 June 2004
  • Israel - Association Agreement, 1 June 2000
  • Jordan - Association Agreement, 1 May 2002
  • Lebanon - Interim Agreement, 1 March 2003
  • Morocco - Association Agreement, 1 March 2000
  • Palestinian Authority - Association Agreement, 1 July 1997
  • Syria - Co-operation Agreement, 1 July 1977
  • Tunisia - Association Agreement, 1 March 1998
Other countries
  • Armenia - Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, entered into force on 9 September 1999
  • Azerbaijan - Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, entered into force on 17 September 1999
  • Cameroon– Interim Economic Partnership Agreement, signed on 28 February 2009
  • Canada – Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), signed on 30 October 2016
  • CARIFORUM States - Economic Partnership Agreement, Provisionally applied
  • Central America - Association Agreement with a strong trade component, signed on 29 June 2012
  • Chile - Association Agreement and Additional Protocol, 1 March 2005
  • Colombia and Peru - Trade Agreement, signed on 26 July 2012
  • Ecuador - Trade agreement provisionnally applied, 1 January 2017
  • Ghana - Stepping stone Economic Partnership Agreement provisionally applied, 15 December 2016
  • Iraq - Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, signed on 11 May 2012
  • Ivory Coast – Economic Partnership Agreement provisionally applied, 3 September 2016
  • Kazakhstan – Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, 30 April 2016
  • Madagascar, Mauritius, the Seychelles, and ZimbabweEconomic Partnership Agreement signed in August 2009
  • Mexico - Economic Partnership, Political Coordination and Cooperation Agreement, 1 July 2000
  • Papua New Guinea and Fiji - Interim Partnership Agreement ratified by Papua New Guinea in May 2011
  • Southern African Development Community (SADC) - Economic Partnership Agreement provisionally applied, signed on 10 October 2016
  • South Africa - Interim Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement, 1 January 2000
  • South Korea - Free Trade Agreement, signed on 6 October 2010, entered into force on 13 December 2015