EPA - Central Africa
The EU-Central Africa EPA makes it easier for people and businesses from the EU and Cameroon to invest in and trade with each other, and to spur development across Central Africa. Learn how the EU’s EPA with Cameroon can benefit your trade.
At a glance
Negotiations for a comprehensive EPA with the whole Central Africa region were launched in 2003. To date, an EPA between the EU and Cameroon entered into force, constituting a step towards achieving a full regional agreement.
The agreement has provided Cameroon with unprecedented free access to the EU market for all its products. These include bananas, aluminium, processed cocoa products, plywood and other fresh and transformed agricultural products. For its part, the EU has benefited from a gradual liberalisation for its products on the Cameroon market since 4 August 2016.
- Currently, Cameroon is the only country in Central Africa that implements the EPA.
- Gabon and Congo (Brazzaville) have not yet signed the Economic Partnership Agreement. Congo trades with the EU under the EU's GSP, while Gabon, as an upper-middle income country according to the World Bank classification, has not been eligible for the GSP scheme since 1 January 2014.
- Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, São Tomé and Principe and Equatorial Guinea are least-developed countries, so they benefit from duty-free, quota-free EU access under the EU's EBA scheme.
- The EU and the Central African regional organisations (CEMAC and ECCAS) are studying the possibility to reach a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement through the stepping-stone agreement already used by Cameroon.
Asymmetric provisions in favour of Central Africa
Taking full account of the differences in levels of development between parties, the EPA foresees asymmetries provisions in favour of Cameroon, such as the exclusion of sensitive products from liberalisation, long liberalisation periods, flexible rules of origin, and special safeguards and measures for certain sensitive agricultural markets and industries.
- While EU markets are immediately and fully opened, Cameroon has 15 years to open to EU imports. Moreover, producers of 20% of the most sensitive goods will enjoy permanent protection from competition.
- The EU grants zero duties and zero quotas to imports coming from Cameroon. The access to the EU market is permanent, full and free to all products.
- Cameroon phases out duties on 80% of goods gradually, over 15 years. Sensitive products, including most types of meat, wines and spirits, malt, milk products, flour, certain vegetables, wood and wood products, used clothes and textiles, paintings, and used tyres are entirely excluded from liberalisation.
- Use the search option of My Trade Assistant to find the exact information on duties and tariffs for your specific product, taking into consideration its country of origin and destination. If in doubt, contact your customs authorities.
Rules of origin
New, improved rules of origin are currently under negotiation and will be annexed to the EPA as soon as possible.
Before you export/import, make sure that you:
- Check the rules of origin applying to your specific product, using the My Trade Assistant search form
- Consult your customs authorities.
Tolerances included in the EPA are more lenient than the usual ones. They mount to 15% in ex-work price of the final product, instead of 10% foreseen in most of the EU's agreements. For textile and clothing, specific tolerances apply.
- Bilateral cumulation with the EU.
- Diagonal cumulation and Full cumulation with OCTs and ACP countries, under certain conditions.
- Cumulation with neighbouring developing countries, under certain conditions.
Evidence of direct transport must be brought to the customs authorities of the importing country.
Refund may be claimed for duty paid on materials which were previously imported for further processing and then exported to a country which has signed an EPA with the EU.
Fish caught in high seas and in the Exclusive Economic Zones of Cameroon can be considered as originating in Cameroon solely when it is caught by vessels that fulfil certain criteria. These criteria refer to the place of registration of a vessel, to the flag under which they "sail," and to their ownership.
There is no specific requirement on the nationality of the crew, masters or officers. These requirements, which were in the original Cotonou Agreement, have now been removed to facilitate the conferring of origin to fish caught by EPA countries.
Product specific rules of origin
Technical rules and requirements
- Learn about the technical requirements, rules and procedures[link] that goods have to meet in order to be imported in the European Union.
- Search for the specific rules and regulations applicable to your product and its country of origin in the My Trade Assistant database.
Health and safety requirements SPS
- Learn about the general health, safety, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards that goods have to meet in order to be imported into the European Union.
- Search for the health, safety and SPS rules applicable to your product and its country of origin in the My Trade Assistant database.
Custom clearance documents and procedures
Proofs of origin
- To become an approved exporter, you must be able to prove to your customs authorities the originating status of your products, as well as any other requirements they may impose.
The customs authorities can withdraw your approved exporter status in case of misuse. To find out more about the procedures, contact your customs authorities.
- To qualify for preferential duty rates, products originating in Cameroon must be accompanied by a proof of origin. Proof of origin remains valid for 10 months. This can be either:
- Movement Certificate EUR.1 - issued by the customs authorities of the exporting country. The exporter (or authorised representative) applying for a certificate must be prepared to submit documents proving the originating status of the products concerned on request and fulfill the other requirements of the rules of origin Protocol.
- an invoice declaration – issued by any exporter, for consignments valued 6,000 EUR or less, or by approved exporters, for consignments of any value. When filling in an invoice declaration, you should be prepared to submit documents proving the originating status of your products.
- Find out about other custom clearance documents and procedures[link] needed to import into the European Union.
Intellectual Property and Geographical Indications
- Find specific information about the EU legislation for IP and GI, as well as EU IPR policy towards least developed and developing countries
- Find general information about Intellectual Property and Geographical Indications
Trade in Services
- Find specific information on the EU market for Services
- Find general information about the rules, regulations and facilities governing trade in services
- Find specific information on the EU market of public procurement
- Find general information about public procurement legislation, rules and access to different markets
- Find specific information about investments from abroad into the EU
- Find general information to enable your investment abroad
Others (competition, TSD)
Mediation and arbitration
The rules of procedure for mediation and arbitration as well as the code of conduct for arbitrators have been recently adopted, with Council Decision 2019/1954.
- Since 2014, the EU has stopped export subsidies on all products exported to all EPA countries.
- The EU has minimised measures with production and trade- distorting
- If local industry is threatened because of import surges from Europe, the EPA allows Cameroon to trigger measures to in order to protect sensitive sectors.
In order to be able to take full advantage of the EPA's trade preferences, the agreement has also a cooperation component. The main priority areas of development cooperation identified by the EU and Cameroon are:
- Development of basic regional infrastructure;
- Agriculture and food security;
- Industry, diversification and competitiveness of economies;
- Strengthening of regional integration;
- Improvement of the business environment;
- Supporting Implementation of trade-related rules.
EPAs are explicitly based on the "essential and fundamental" elements set out in the Cotonou Agreement, i.e. human rights, democratic principles, the rule of law, and good governance. EPAs thus contain some of the strongest language on rights and sustainable development available in EU agreements.
- The "non-execution clause" means that “appropriate measures” (as set out under the Cotonou Agreement) can be taken if any party fails to fulfil its obligations in respect of the essential elements. This may include the suspension of trade benefits.
- The joint EPA Committee is tasked with the function of monitoring and assessing the impact of the implementation on the sustainable development of the Parties. In keeping with the Cotonou Agreement, there is a clear role for civil society and members of parliament.