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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

Promoting development through trade in ACP countries

The EU has in place, or is negotiating, Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Find out more about the top 10 benefits of these partnerships for development.

  • 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. See how the partnership is put into practice in various partner countries.

Economic Partnership Agreements in a nutshell

Putting partnerships into practice

Implementation of EPAs has now reached cruising speed: in 2019 the EU implemented seven agreements, with 31 partners – 14 of them in Africa. Demand for EPAs in ACP states is increasing. The agenda is also expanding in substantive terms, with new issues such as services and investment being added to agreements.

Find out more about EU trade and investment with African, Caribbean and Pacific states.

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 factsheet and the EPA brochure, and see what the benefits of EPAs are.

Meetings and documents on implementation

Both parties meet regularly to discuss EPA implementation. For more information, please consult:

Where are we in negotiations?

Overview of EPAs - state of play

Regional EPA pages: