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Guide to the world’s biggest free trade deal – the economic partnership agreements between the EU and Africa

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ECDPM has released a ‘Frequently asked questions’ guide to the economic partnership agreements (EPAs) between the EU and Africa. This is the world’s largest trade deal covering 43 African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries and 28 EU member states. 

This includes key statistics, the timeline so far, key contentious issues, and an up to date look the trade deals so far. 

Read the full guide here.

What are EPAs?

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) are ‘development-focused’ trade agreements negotiated between the African, Caribbean and African (ACP) countries/regions and the European Union (EU).

As of 1 October 2014, EPAs have been concluded by the EU with 43 ACP countries, covering over 900 million people on four continents.

They are reciprocal, but asymmetric trade agreements, where the EU, as one regional block, provides full duty free and quota free market access to EPA countries and/or regions and where ACP countries/ regions, commit to open at least 75% of their markets to the EU. 

ECOWAS and SADC Economic Partnership Agreements: A Comparative Analysis

After 12 years of hard talks, the EPAs finally concluded with ECOWAS and SADC this year were made possible, largely due to the strong political leadership shown on all sides in order to ensure the smooth trade relationship with the EU and to maintain regional unity and solidarity.

In terms of product coverage, ECOWAS will liberalise 75% of its tariff lines, based on its common external tariff, over a period of 20 years while the SADC EPA group is expected to liberalise 80% of its trade with the EU.


FINAL New_State of trade regimes (1)

EPA timeline final

New State of Regimes by Regions
ECDPM will be holding a media briefing on 29th September between 12:30pm and 2pm at Rue Archimède 5, 1000, Brussels, Belgium.

To arrange for interviews or for more information, please contact ECDPM’s Communications Officer, Emily Barker on +32 (0)2 237 43 81 or +32 (0)474 12 34 73 or


Economic recovery and transformationEast African Community (EAC)Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)Southern African Development Community (SADC)TradeAfricaEast AfricaEuropeSouthern AfricaWest Africa