What Are Economic Partnership Agreements

In Africa, epAs support the implementation of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, which was launched in September 2018. They are key instruments of the EU`s global strategy for Africa. The economic pillar of this strategy identifies trade – alongside regional and continental economic integration – as important elements in promoting the sustainable development of African countries. Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are „development-oriented“ trade agreements negotiated between African, Caribbean and African (ACP) countries/regions and the European Union (EU). These are reciprocal but asymmetrical trade agreements in which the EU, as a regional bloc, grants full duty-free and quota-free market access to EPA countries and/or regions, and in which ACP countries/regions commit to opening at least 75% of their markets to the EU. The EU`s trade relations with ACP countries are governed by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement signed in 2000 between the EU, its Member States and acp countries. While this political, economic and comprehensive development partnership expires in 2020, the parties are currently negotiating a successor agreement (the so-called „post-Cotonou“ agreement). Free trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement provide for duty-free trade in goods and services between countries, as well as the removal of other barriers to trade. Economic Partnership Agreements contain the same provisions as a free trade agreement, but go beyond free trade agreements. In addition to free trade, the EPAs provide for the free movement of persons and contain provisions on government procurement, international competition and cooperation, customs procedures and international dispute settlement. The agreements provide a framework for cooperation and not for competition between geographically distant economies.

An agreement between a stronger economy and a weaker economy is designed to stimulate economic development in the weaker nation while bringing real benefits to the strongest. .