EPA - Eastern and Southern Africa

The EU-ESA EPA makes it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to invest in and trade with each other, and to spur development across Eastern and Southern Africa. Learn how the EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) with 5 African states can benefit your trade.

At a glance

The Interim Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Eastern and Southern Africa (EU-ESA iEPA) was signed by Mauritius, Seychelles, Zimbabwe and Madagascar in August 2009 and was applied provisionally in May 2012. In January 2013, the European Parliament gave its consent to the agreement. Comoros signed the agreement in July 2017 and started applying it in February 2019.

The EU – ESA iEPA includes:

  • the elimination of all EU duties and quotas for imports from ESA states;
  • the gradual opening up of ESA markets to EU exports;
  • detailed provisions on rules of origin, fisheries, and trade defence;
  • co-operation on technical barriers to trade, as well as standards on animal and plant health;
  • rules on development cooperation;
  • mechanisms for dispute settlement.

The five countries already applying the agreement have declared their readiness to move beyond trade in goods, towards a more comprehensive agreement. On 2 October 2019, negotiations were launched to extend the scope of the EPA to include trade in services, investment, sustainable development and competition. Moreover, parties agreed on a package modernizing the rules of origin for this EPA.

Benefiting countries

  • Comoros
  • Madagascar
  • Mauritius
  • Seychelles
  • Zimbabwe
  • The deal remains open to other countries from the region.

Asymmetric provisions in favour of ESA countries

The EU-ESA EPA foresees asymmetries provisions in favour of ESA countries, such as the exclusion of sensitive products from liberalisation, long liberalisation periods, flexible rules of origin, and special safeguards and measures for agriculture, food security and infant industry protection.

  • While EU markets were immediately and fully opened, ESA states open their markets partially to imports from the EU, taking full account of the differences in levels of development.


The EU grants 100% duty-free and quota-free access to all imports coming from ESA countries. The access to the EU market is permanent, full and free to all products.

ESA countries phase out duties partially, in line with their individual schedules annexed to the interim EPA, as follows:

  • Madagascar liberalises 81% of EU imports;
  • Mauritius 96%;
  • Seychelles 98%;
  • Zimbabwe 80%.

Sensitive products can be entirely excluded from liberalisation. Main exclusions from liberalisation include:

  • Madagascar: meat, milk and cheese, fisheries, vegetables, cereals, oils and fats, edible preparations, sugar, cocoa, beverages, tobacco, chemicals, plastic and paper articles, textiles, metal articles, furniture;
  • Mauritius: live animals and meat, edible products of animal origin, fats, edible preparations and beverages, chemicals, plastics and rubber articles of leather and fur skins, iron & steel and consumer electronic goods;
  • Seychelles: meat, fisheries, beverages, tobacco, leather articles, glass and ceramics products and vehicles;
  • Zimbabwe: products of animal origin, cereals, beverages paper, plastics and rubber, textiles and clothing, footwear, glass and ceramics, consumer electronic and vehicles.

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

In order to qualify for preferential treatment, your product will need to satisfy the rules of origin under the agreement. Please check the interactive “Rules of Origin Self Assessment tool (ROSA) in My Trade Assistant to assess whether your product fulfils the rules of origin and find out how to prepare the correct documents.


Product requirements

Technical rules and requirements

  • Learn about the technical requirements, rules and procedures 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

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 ESA countries must be accompanied by a proof of origin. Proof of origin remains valid for 10 months. This can be either:

  1. a 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.
  2. 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 and fulfil the other requirements of the Protocol on rules of origin.

Other documents

Find out about other custom clearance documents and procedures needed to import into the European Union.

Intellectual Property and Geographical Indications

Trade in Services

Public Procurement


Others (competition, TSD)


  • Since 2014, the EU has stopped export subsidies on all products exported to 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 measures to be triggered to protect industrial sectors and infant industry.

Sustainable development

The EU-ESA EPA is 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.

  • 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 institutions are tasked with the function of monitoring and assessing the impact of the implementation of the EPA 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.

Regional integration

The EPA furthers ESA countries' preparedness for implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) under the African Union, thus constituting a building block towards regional economic integration.

Development cooperation, capacity-building and technical assistance

  • The EU is ready to provide support, which will be financed through existing instruments, mainly the EU development budget and the European Development Fund (EDF), through the Aid for Trade.
  • At the request of the five ESA countries, the European Union has already agreed to provide financial assistance for the setting up of an EPA Coordination Mechanism. Its aim is to ensure appropriate coordination and technical support to the five ESA countries, enabling them to engage effectively in the negotiation process. The Coordination Mechanism has already contributed on the ESA side to the preparation of the scoping phase for the upcoming negotiations.

Useful links and documents

Share this page:

Quick links