The ACP is a grouping of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states with which the European Union has a special relationship.
Current trade arrangements are based upon Economic partnership agreements (EPAs). EPAs link the EU to ACP countries in seven regional groupings:
|Cariforum (Caribbean) region||West Africa||Central Africa|
|Eastern and Southern Africa||East African community||Southern African development community|
EU trade with ACP countries has increased by over 50% over the past decade. As the primary destination for agricultural and transformed goods from the region, the EU is the main trade partner of ACP countries, in terms of both their exports and imports.
Trade with the ACP region provides EU consumers with a wealth of tropical products, out-of-season products, and competitively priced goods, including cocoa, coffee and tea, tropical fruits and spices, among others. The predominant categories of exports are final products, such as cereals, spirits and liqueurs, and dairy products, among others.
The Cariforum region is composed of 15 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent, St Kitts and Nevis, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago.
The Cariforum EPA forms the first full regional EPA between the EU and an ACP grouping.
The agricultural chapter identifies co-operation priorities, including:
- the development of export market capabilities;
- compliance with quality standards;
- the promotion of private investment in production;
- the issue of food security.
As part of the agreement, the EU has committed to undertake prior consultations on trade policy developments that may impact the competitive positions of traditional agricultural products, including bananas, rum, rice and sugar.
The EU imports a number of products from the Cariforum region, such as:
- tropical fruit
- nuts and spices
- cocoa beans
All Cariforum agricultural goods benefit from duty-free quota-free access to the EC market, with the exception of sugar, which is subject to a transitional period. In order to protect local producers, a number of Cariforum agricultural products are excluded indefinitely from liberalisation within the EPA, while other sensitive goods are excluded for up to 25 years.
Declarations concerning agricultural products have been included at the end of the agreement, including a joint declaration on bananas, acknowledging the importance of the sector for several Cariforum countries and setting out measures to support the industry against potential challenges.
The West Africa EPA region is composed of 16 countries:
|Benin||Burkina Faso||Cape Verde|
|Guinea Bissau||Côte d'Ivoire||Liberia|
Between 2014 and 2018, an interim economic partnership agreement was signed by all member countries, with the exception of Nigeria. The EU is West Africa's biggest trading partner and is the main export market for transformed products from the region’s fisheries and agribusinesses.
Amongst the main imports to the EU from West Africa are:
- cocoa beans
- cocoa paste and powder
- tropical fruit
Agri-products that the EU exports to the region include:
- infant food and other cereals
- milk powders and whey
- poultry products.
The Central Africa EPA region is composed of eight countries:
|Cameroon||Central African Republic (CAR)||Congo|
|Gabon||Equatorial Guinea||Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)|
|Sao Tome and Principe (STP)||Chad|
In 2009, the EU and Cameroon signed an interim economic partnership agreement. This interim EPA, which involves only Cameroon, is a temporary solution while negotiations to replace it with a full EPA covering the entire Central African region are ongoing.
The text of the interim EPA identifies agriculture and food safety as priority areas for capacity building and modernisation, with increases sought in both the quantity and quality of the goods and services produced by agriculture and fisheries. The interim agreement also places limitations on the introduction of new agricultural export subsidies.
Amongst the main agricultural exports from the Central Africa region to the EU are:
- tropical fruits.
In turn, the EU exports a number of products to the region, including:
- milk powders
Interim partnership agreement (only ratified by Cameroon)
Eastern and Southern Africa
The East and Southern Africa region is composed of 11 countries:
An interim EPA has been signed by Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe. Negotiations to reach a more comprehensive and inclusive agreement are in progress.
The interim EPA includes a standalone chapter on agriculture, which sets out the joint goals of promoting sustainability and productivity, developing agro-industry and trade, and ensuring food security, but does not cover market access issues, such as tariffs and safeguards, which are included in the “Trade in Goods” section.
The agreement also includes relaxed rules of origin for a number of agricultural products that were identified by the ESA region as important in their trade with the EU. Rules of origin that will be used in the final EPA still need to be negotiated.
The East and Southern Africa region receives a variety of agri-food products from the EU, such as:
- pet foods
- pasta, pastry, biscuits and bread
- infant food
The region also supplies the EU with a number of important commodities, including:
- cut flowers
- gums, resins, and plant extracts
East African community
The East African community (EAC) is a custom union of five countries:
Negotiations for an EPA between the EU and EAC were successfully concluded in October 2014, but a final agreement is yet to be signed by all countries. The EPA includes a chapter on agriculture, which is geared towards promoting sustainable agricultural and rural development, poverty reduction, and food security in the EAC. The chapter also includes a guarantee that the EU will not apply export subsidies, even in times of market crisis.
Agricultural products make up the majority of exports from the East African community to the EU. Amongst the main agri-products are:
- cut flowers
The EU in turn exports a number of agricultural products to the East African community:
- food preparations
- spirits, liqueurs and vermouth.
Southern African development community
In June 2016, the EU signed an Economic partnership agreement (EPA) with members of the Southern African development community (SADC) EPA Group, comprising of:
|Namibia||South Africa||Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)|
Angola has an option to join the agreement in the future.
In 2018, the EU imported agricultural products to the value of over €3 billion from the region, while agricultural exports came to a value of €2.5 billion.
The EPA caters for a wide variety of agricultural imports from the Southern African region, for example:
- beef from Botswana
- fish from Namibia
- sugar from Eswatini
- fruit and wine from South Africa.
The EU also exports a number of agricultural products to the region, such as:
- poultry products
- vegetable oils
- wheat and other cereals.
There are 14 Pacific ACP countries are negotiating as a region: Cook Islands, Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. An interim EPA was signed by Fiji and Papua New Guinea in 2009.
The interim EPA sets out the EU’s commitment to phasing out export subsidies for a number of agricultural goods. On the issue of food security, it is acknowledged that the removal of barriers to trade may create challenges for producers in the agricultural and food sectors of the Pacific states, and it is agreed that cooperation is required to mitigate these challenges.
Negotiations to reach a unified agreement with all of the Pacific ACP countries are in progress.
The European Commission's department for agriculture and rural development presented an updated text on agriculture in early 2012, including geographical indications (GIs), and negotiations continue to address outstanding issues, such as global sourcing for fish and GIs for agricultural products.
Exports from the EU to the Pacific region include:
- vegetable, fruit and nut preparations
- meat preparations
- chocolate and confectionaries
- wine, vermouth, and cider
- olive oil.
The Pacific region supplies the EU market with a number of agri-products:
- palm and palm-kernel oils
- tropical fruit.