Taxation and Customs Union

The Countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP)


Trade preferences available to the African, Caribbean and Pacific States having concluded WTO-compatible agreements with the EU.

For general information on trade and development issues in relation to the ACP States you may consult the websites of DG Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid or DG Trade.

Exporters in developing countries may also be interested to see the Export Helpdesk for Developing Countries of DG TRADE.


Situation before 31 December 2007

The trade, aid and political agreement signed in Cotonou, Benin in June 2000 between the 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States and the EC has set ambitious goals for the next 20 years. The Agreement foresees Economic Partnership Agreements that will set up an entirely new framework for trade and investment flows between the EU and contracting ACP States.

Under the Cotonou Agreement, trade preferences were granted unilaterally by the European Union. The rules of origin stipulated the conditions under which this preferential access was to be enjoyed by the beneficiary countries.

Annex V of the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement, among which the Protocol concerning the definition of the concept of 'originating products' and methods of administrative cooperation, expired on 31 December 2007.


Situation since 1 January 2008

There have been important changes since 1 January 2008 and depending on the outcome of the negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements with ACP countries additional changes are still to be expected.

The 35 ACP States which have initialled WTO-compatible agreements benefit from new arrangements (see below under subtitle Market Access Regulation - MAR). The remaining ACP States now benefit only from GSP.

See also the Notice to Community operators and the note to the customs administrations of Member States (which includes the list of countries benefiting from the new arrangements).

Situation after 1 October 2014

Regulation (EU) No 527/2013 withdrew, with deferred effect until 1/10/2014, Market Access Regulation’s benefits to those countries that had not taken the necessary steps towards ratification of the Economic Partnership Agreements concluded with the EU by removing them from Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007.

The Commission is empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 24a of Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007 to amend Annex I to that Regulation so as to add regions or States from the ACP Group of States that have concluded negotiations on an agreement with the EU and which meets the requirements of Article XXIV of GATT 1994.

Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Kenya, on one hand and the European Union and its Member States on the other hand concluded negotiations on an Economic Partnership Agreement. Moreover, Fiji and Cameroon ratified their respective interim EPA agreement.

Therefore, the Commission adopted Delegated Acts by which the following countries were re-included in Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007: The Republic of Botswana, The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, The Republic of Ghana, The Republic of Namibia, The Kingdom of Swaziland, The Republic of Cameroon, The Republic of the Fiji Islands, as of 1.10.2014, and The Republic of Kenya, as of 25.12.2014.


Market Access Regulation (MAR)

As of 28 July 2016 Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007 was repealed and replaced by Regulation (EU) 2016/1076 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2016. The Regulation applies the arrangements for products originating in certain states which are part of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States provided for in agreements establishing, or leading to the establishment of, economic partnership agreements.


Specific provisions

NOTICE: Specific provisions only contain information on cases where the rules of the particular arrangement differ from the common provisions, or where these common provisions need to be complemented. Therefore, always check the common provisions.



For the purpose of defining the concept of originating products, the territories of the ACP are considered as one territory. This means that if a manufacturer in an ACP State uses materials from one or more other ACP States, the materials are treated no differently from those obtained in the ACP State in which he manufactures his products.

Cumulation with OCT and EC

Bilateral cumulation, diagonal cumulation and full cumulation are applicable

Cumulation with South Africa

The provisions relating to this kind of cumulation have not yet entered into force, pending the conclusions of agreements including identical rules of origin between the ACP States and South Africa . As soon as these arrangements are concluded the following cumulation may be applied:

Diagonal cumulation : When applying this system the products will only obtain ACP origin provided that the value added in the ACP exceeds the value of the materials originating in South Africa. If this is not the case the products shall be considered as originating in the South Africa.

Full cumulation : This system will apply between South Africa and other Member States of SACU (South African Customs Union, comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) provided that the materials undergo subsequent working or processing there.

Cumulation with neighbouring developing countries

At the request of the ACP States, materials originating in a neighbouring developing country, other than an ACP State, belonging to a coherent geographical entity may be considered as materials originating in the ACP States when incorporated into a product obtained there. Under certain specific conditions, it may not be required that such materials undergo sufficient working or processing.


Minimal operations

The operations that are considered as insufficient working or processing to confer the status of originating products are listed in Article 5 of Annex II to the MAR.


General tolerance rule

Non-originating materials, which, according to the list rules should not be used in the manufacture of a given product, can nevertheless be used provided their value does not exceed 15 % of the ex-works price of the final product.


List rules

Compared to the expired Cotonou regime, the MAR rules have been relaxed in the following areas: agriculture (Annex IIa), fisheries and textiles.



Drawback is not prohibited.


Proof of origin

  • a movement certificate EUR.1 issued by the customs authorities
  • a declaration given by an approved exporter or by any exporter provided that the total value of the products does not exceed € 6 000
Validity of proof of origin

A proof of origin is valid for ten months.

Exemption from proof of origin

When the total value of the imported products does not exceed € 500 in the case of small packages or € 1 200 in the case of products forming part of personal luggage.



A derogation is simply a temporary lessening or relaxation of the law or the rules, therefore allowing preferential treatment to be accorded to products which may not strictly satisfy the criteria for "originating products".



CARIFORUM-EC Economic Partnership Agreement

As outlined in the notice OJ L 352 (p. 62) of 31.12.2008 concerning the provisional application of the CARIFORUM-EC EPA, as of 29 December 2008 the rules of origin laid down in Protocol I of the EPA superseded those contained in Annex II of the Market Access Regulation (MAR) regarding exportations from the 14 EPA signatories: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.

  • Bilateral and diagonal cumulation can currently be applied in the framework of this agreement.
  • Cumulation with neighbouring developing countries can only be decided in the future by the Special Committee on Customs Cooperation and Trade Facilitation upon request from CARIFORUM States.
  • There are time limited exclusions from cumulation for rice, sugar and products with high sugar content.

The specific changes in the list rules are in the following chapters: Ex1806, 2007, 2009, 2106, 2202, 2402, chapters 50 to 59, and 8415. Operators may find the text of the CARIFORUM-EC EPA together with the Protocol on rules of origin here: CARIFORUM-EC EPA


Interim Economic Partnership Agreements

Interim EPAs with the following regions are expected to enter into force or be provisionally applied as soon as the ratification procedures in the countries concerned have been completed:

  • ESA (Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe)
    Following the submission of the instruments of ratification to the Council Secretariat, the interim EPA with Eastern and Southern Africa started to be provisionally applied as of 14 May 2012 between the EU and Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles and Zimbabwe. From the same day, the rules of origin set out in Protocol 1 to that agreement replaced those laid down in Annex II to the Market Access Regulation (MAR). The interim agreement has been published in the Official Journal of the EU No EU No L 111 of 24 April 2012 . Although Comoros and Zambia initialled the interim ESA EPA, they have neither signed nor ratified it yet and therefore their exports to the EU are governed by the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

    Cumulation :
    • As from 12 November 2018, Mauritius may apply the cumulation provided for under Article 4 of Protocol 1 on rules of origin, subject to the fulfilment of the requirements indicated in paragraph 6(b) of Article 4 of Protocol 1, with 12 ACP countries and with the overseas countries and territories of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (OJ C 407. 12.11.2018, p.4)

    Derogations that are currently in force:
    • Preserved tuna and tuna loins from the Eastern and Southern African States (OJ L 271, 20.10.2017, p. 44) valid until 31.12.2022


  • PACIFIC (Fiji, Papua New Guinea)
    As of 20 December 2009 Papua New Guinea and of 28 July 2014 Fiji started to provisionally apply the rules of origin laid down in Protocol I of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EC and the Pacific States. These rules superseded those contained in Annex II of the Market Access Regulation regarding exportations from Papua New Guinea and Fiji. The text of the agreement including the applicable rules of origin. 
  • CEMAC (Cameroon)
     As of 4 August 2014 Cameroon has started to provisionally apply the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EC and Central Africa. In the absence of a protocol on rules of origin in the Agreement, the applicable rules of origin regarding exports from Cameroon are those contained in Annex II of the Market Access Regulation. The applicable rules of origin for EU exportations to Cameroon: EN.
  • SADC (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland)
    The full EPA with SADC started to be provisionally applied as of 10 October 2016 between the EU and Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. Although Mozambique initialled the EPA, it has not ratified it yet and therefore its exports to the EU are governed by the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).
    Guide on the application of Protocol 1 of the SADC-EU EPA.
    • As from 1 October 2018, EU economic operators may apply the cumulation provided for under paragraphs 3 and 7 of Article 4 of Protocol 1 on rules of origin with other ACP EPA States and with the overseas countries and territories of the European Union. (OJ C 407. 12.11.2018, p.8)
    • The European Commission published on 12 November 2018, the list of materials of originating in South Africa and which cannot be imported into the EU duty-free quota-free, to which the cumulation provided for under paragraph 2 of Article 4 of Protocol 1 on rules of origin shall not apply (OJ C 407, 12.11.2018, p.5).


Other interim EPAs have not been applied yet:

  • EAC (Burundi, Kenya, Ruanda, Tanzania, Uganda)