Version: 1.0.20.21 (2020-10-12 14:45)

The EU - Pacific States Interim Economic Partnership Agreement

The EU-Pacific States Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) makes it easier for people and businesses from the two regions to invest in and trade with each other, and to spur development across the Pacific. Learn how the EU's iEPA with four Pacific states can benefit your trade.

The agreement at a glance

The EU – Pacific iEPA was ratified by the European Parliament in January 2011 and by Papua New Guinea in May 2011. The government of Fiji started applying the agreement in July 2014. Samoa acceded to the Agreement in December 2018 and is applying it since then.

The Solomon Islands and Tonga informed the European Commission that they intend to join the iEPA. Solomon Island’s accession procedure is already underway.

The EU – Pacific iEPA opens up trade in goods with the EU. The agreement includes

  • duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market for all goods coming from iEPA Pacific states
  • asymmetric and gradual opening of their markets to EU goods, taking full account of differences in levels of development and sensitive sectors
  • exclusion of some sensitive sectors and products from liberalization
  • the possibility of Pacific States to reintroduce duties and quotas if imports from the EU disturb or threaten to disturb the local economy
  • rules on technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary measures to help Pacific exporters meet EU import standards
  • efficient customs procedures and enhanced co-operation between administrations

Benefiting countries

  • Fiji
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Samoa

Future benefiting countries

  • Solomon Islands – Accession procedure is underway
  • Tonga – expressed its intention to accede the EPA
  • The agreement remains open to the other ACP Pacific countries

Asymmetric provisions in favour of Pacific countries

The EU-Pacific iEPA foresees asymmetric provisions in favour of Pacific countries, such as the exclusion of sensitive products from liberalisation, long liberalisation periods, flexible rules of origin, in addition to special safeguards and measures for agriculture, food products and infant industries.

 

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

Tariffs

  • the EU grants 100% duty-free and quota-free access to all imports coming from Pacific EPA countries. The access to the EU market is permanent, full and free to all products.
  • Pacific EPA countries phase out duties partially and gradually as follows
    • Papua New Guinea opened up its market to 88% of EU imports from day one
    • Fiji is opening up its market to 87% of imports from the EU over 15 years
    • Samoa opens up its market to 80% of imports from the EU over 20 years
  • if imports of some EU goods into EAP countries suddenly surge, safeguards such as import quotas and the reintroduction of duties can be applied by Pacific EPA countries

 

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

This section introduces the main rules of origin and the origin procedures of the trade agreement.

Origin is the 'economic nationality' of traded goods. If you are new to the topic, you can find an introduction to the main concepts in the goods section.

Rules of origin

To qualify for the preferential rate, your product needs to comply with certain rules that prove its origin.

Where can I find the rules of origin?

The rules of origin are set out in Protocol I concerning definition of the concept of "originating products" and methods of administrative cooperation of the EU-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement.

Does my product originate in the EU or a Pacific EPA state?

For your product to qualify for a lower or zero preferential tariff under the EU-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement it must originate in the EU or a Pacific EPA state. A product is considered originating in the EU or in a Pacific EPA state, if it is

The product also needs to fulfil all other applicable requirements specified in the Chapter (for example insufficient working or processing, the direct transport rule). There are also some additional flexibilities to help you comply with product specific rules (for example tolerance or cumulation).

 

Examples of product specific rules in EU Trade Agreements

  • the value-added rule – the value of all non-originating materials used cannot exceed a certain percentage of the ex-works price of the product.
  • the change of tariff classification – the production process results in a change of tariff classification between the non-originating materials and the final product e.g. production of paper (Harmonised System Chapter 48) from non-originating pulp (Harmonised System Chapter 47);
  • specific operations – a specific production process is required, for example spinning of fibers for yarns. Such rules are mostly used in the textile and clothing, and chemical sectors.
  • a combination of these different rules is possible with the different rules being complied with alternatively or in combination.

 

You can find the specific rules for your product in My Trade Assistant.

Tips to help you comply with the product specific rules

The agreement provides additional flexibility helping you to comply with product specific rules, such as tolerance or cumulation.

Tolerance
Cumulation

The agreement provides for the following types of cumulation of origin

As of 22 February 2019, the EU may apply diagonal cumulation with certain ACP states and with the overseas countries and territories of the EU (OJ C 69, 22.2.2019, p. 2).

  • cumulation with neighbouring developing countries, which allows materials originating in such countries be counted as originating in a Pacific state when used in the manufacturing of a product, provided that certain conditions are met

Other requirements

The product also needs to fulfil all other applicable requirements specified in the Protocol, such as insufficient working or processing or the direct transport rule:

Transport through a third country: direct transport rule

Originating products must be transported from the EU to a Pacific EPA state (and vice-versa) without being further processed in a third country.

Trans-shipment or temporary warehousing in a third country is allowed if the products remain under the surveillance of the customs authorities and do not undergo operations other than

  • unloading
  • reloading
  • any operation designed to preserve them in good condition

Originating products may be transported by pipeline across a territory other than that of the Pacific EPA states or the EU.

Evidence of the direct transport will have to be brought to the customs authorities of the importing country.

Duty drawback

Refund of duties previously paid on non-originating materials used to produce a product that is exported under a preferential tariff is allowed under the EU-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement.

Origin procedures

Exporters and importers have to follow origin procedures. Origin procedures related to claims for a preferential tariff and verification by customs authorities are set out in Title IV on proof of origin and Title V on arrangements for administrative cooperation. They clarify, for example how:

  • to declare the origin of a product
  • to claim preferences
  • the customs authorities can verify the origin of a product.

How to claim a preferential tariff?

To benefit from preferential treatment, you must provide proof of origin.

  • you will need either
  • the proof of origin is valid for a period of 10 months from the date of issue
  • no proof of origin is required when the total value of the products does not exceed
    • €500 for small packages
    • €1,200 for personal luggage

Proof of Origin

Movement certificate EUR.1

  • Movement certificates EUR.1 are issued by the customs authorities of the exporting country
  • Annex III includes a specimen EUR.1 certificate and gives instructions for its completion
  • the exporter applying for the certificate should be prepared to submit documents proving the originating status of the products concerned

Origin declaration (self-declaration by the exporter)

 

Approved exporters

Exporters under this agreement can seek authorisation from their customs authorities to make out origin declarations for products of any value.

The exporter must provide sufficient guarantees to the customs authorities that the originating status of the products and the fulfilment of all the other requirements of the agreement (Protocol) can be verified.

Customs authorities may withdraw the approved exporter status in the event of any abuse.

What should the origin declaration contain?

  • the exporter should type, stamp or print the following declaration on the invoice, delivery note or other commercial document identifying the product (Annex IV): “The exporter of the products covered by this document (customs authorisation No ... ) declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these products are of ... preferential origin.”
  • the origin declaration can be made in any of the official languages of the EU
  • you must sign your origin declaration by hand. If you are an approved exporter, you are exempted from this requirement provided you give your customs authorities a written undertaking that you accept full responsibility for any declaration identifying you

Submission

  • an origin declaration may be made by the exporter when the products to which it relates are exported, or after export on condition that it is presented in the importing country no later than two years after the products to which it relates have been imported
  • when filling in an origin declaration, you should be prepared to submit documents proving the originating status of your products

Verification of origin

The customs authorities may verify whether an imported product is indeed originating or fulfils other origin requirements. Verification is based on

  • administrative cooperation between customs authorities of the importing and the exporting Party
  • checks done by local customs — visits of the importing Party to the exporter are not allowed

The authorities of the exporting Party determine the origin and inform the authorities of the importing Party of the results.

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

Health and safety requirements SPS

Custom clearance documents and procedures

For a description of how to prove the origin of your products to claim preferential tariffs and of rules relating to the verification of origin by customs authorities, please refer to the section on rules of origin above.

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

For information on customs procedures for import and export in general, visit the DG Taxation and Customs Union website.

Intellectual Property and Geographical Indications

Trade in Services

Public Procurement

Investment

Other areas

Competition

  • 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 Pacific EPA allow measures to be triggered to protect industrial sectors and infant industry

Sustainable development

The EU-Pacific 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.

Capacity-building and technical assistance

The EU provides Aid for Trade technical assistance. This helps countries to adapt their customs procedures and reduce paperwork. For you, this means less hassle when dealing with customs.

Useful links and documents

Quick links