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Economic partnerships

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are trade and development agreements negotiated between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) partners engaged in regional economic integration processes.

EU trade policy and ACP countries

  • The Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and regions aim at promoting ACP-EU trade – and ultimately contribute, through trade and investment, to sustainable development and poverty reduction.
  • Trade with ACP countries represents more than 5% of EU imports and exports. The EU is a major trading partner for ACP countries.
  • The EU is the main destination for agricultural and transformed goods from ACP partners – but commodities (e.g. oil) still form a large part of ACP-EU trade. The EPAs intend to support trade diversification by shifting ACP countries' reliance on commodities to higher-value products and services.
  • The majority of ACP countries are either implementing an EPA or have concluded EPA negotiations with the EU

Economic Partnership Agreements in a nutshell

Economic Partnership Agreements:

  • are a process dating back to the signing of the Cotonou Agreement.
  • are "tailor-made" to suit specific regional circumstances.
  • are WTO-compatible agreements, but go beyond conventional free-trade agreements, focusing on ACP development, taking account of their socio-economic circumstances and including co-operation and assistance to help ACP countries benefit from the agreements.
  • open up EU markets fully and immediately, but allow ACP countries long transition periods to open up partially to EU imports while providing protection for sensitive sectors.
  • provide scope for wide-ranging trade co-operation on areas such as sanitary norms and other standards.
  • create joint institutions that monitor the implementation of the agreements and address trade issues in a cooperative way.
  • last but certainly not least, are also designed to be drivers of change that will help kick-start reform and contribute to good economic governance. This will help ACP partners attract investment and boost their economic growth.

Read the EPA brochure, see how EPAs promote development through trade, and what the benefits of EPAs are.

Where are we in negotiations?

Overview of EPAs - state of play

Regional EPA pages: