The EU - Pacific States Interim Economic Partnership Agreement
The EU-Pacific (Interim) Economic Partnership Agreement (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 the Pacific. Learn how the EU's EPA with four Pacific states can benefit your trade.
The agreement at a glance
The EU – Pacific EPA 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. Solomon Islands also acceded to the Agreement in May 2020 and is applying it since then.
Tonga and Timor-Leste have informed the European Commission that they intend to join the EPA.
The EU – Pacific EPA 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 EPA 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 on the Pacific side
- the possibility of Pacific States to reintroduce duties and quotas if imports from the EU disturb or threaten to disturb their local economies
- 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
- improved rules of origin for processed fisheries products from the Pacific - the so-called "global sourcing" provision which is intended to boost job creation and development in the region.
- Papua New Guinea
- Solomon Islands
Possible future benefiting countries
- Tonga expressed its intention to accede the EPA
- Timor-Leste expressed its intention to accede the EPA
- The agreement remains open to accession by the other ACP Pacific countries
Asymmetric provisions in favour of Pacific countries
The EU-Pacific EPA 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 security and infant industries.
While EU markets were immediately and fully opened, Pacific EPA states open their markets partially and gradually 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 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 voluntarily opened up its market to 88% of EU imports from day one (even if it would have benefitted from a transition period of 15 years)
- 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
- Solomon Islands opens up its market to 83% of imports from the EU over 15 years
- If imports of some EU goods into Pacific EPA countries suddenly surge, safeguards such as import quotas and the reintroduction of duties can be applied by Pacific EPA countries under ceirtain circumstances.
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.
General information about the rules of origin and the origin procedures can be found in this section.
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 II 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
- wholly obtained in the EU or in a Pacific EPA state, or
- manufactured in the EU or in a Pacific EPA state using non-originating materials, and fulfills product specific rules set out in Annex II
See Annex 1 "Introductory notes” to product specific rules of origin. See also Annex II(a) for alternative product specific rules for certain products.
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.
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.
- the tolerance rule allows the producer to use non-originating materials that are normally prohibited by the product specific rule up to 15% of the ex-works price of the product
- this tolerance cannot be used to exceed any threshold of maximum non-originating materials expressed in value listed in the product specific rules
- specific tolerances apply to textiles and clothing classified in Harmonized System Chapters 50 to 63, which are included in the Notes 5 to 6 of Annex 1 "Introductory notes”
The agreement provides for the following types of cumulation of origin
- bilateral cumulation, which allows materials originating in a Pacific EPA state be counted as originating in the EU (and vice versa) when used in the manufacturing of a product
- full cumulation, which allows non-originating materials be counted as originating in the EU or in the Pacific EPA states, when worked or processed in those countries or in other ACP states or EU Overseas Countries and Territories
- diagonal cumulation, which allows materials originating in any Pacific EPA state, another ACP state or in an EU Overseas Country or Territory be counted as if they were originating in a Pacific EPA state or the EU when used in the production of a product under certain conditions. This type of cumulation requires that an administrative cooperation agreement is in place between the two countries from where origin is cumulated.
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
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
- 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.
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.
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
- a movement certificate EUR.1 or
- an origin declaration
- 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)
- exporters can self-declare that their product originates in the EU or in a Pacific EPA state by providing an origin declaration. The origin declaration can be made by
- an approved exporter, or
- any exporter, if the total value of the products does not exceed €6,000
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
- 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.
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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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 and human rights
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
- My Trade Assistant – look up the detailed conditions, rules and requirements for your product
- See the full text of the EU – Pacific EPA
- Derogation application Annex VII
- Derogations PSRs Annex IIa
- Information Certificate Annex VI
- Intro notes Annex I
- Invoice declaration Annex IV
- Joint declarations
- OCTs neighbouring countries Annex VIII
- PSRs Annex II
- RoO protocol
- South Africa article4 Annex XII
- South Africa exclusions Annex XI
- Supplier declaration Annex V