International Agreements in Progress: Economic Partnership Agreement with the East African Community

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Series Details April 2018
Publication Date April 2018
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The ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (the 'Cotonou Partnership Agreement') of 2000, revised in 2005 and 2010, featured a provision making it possible for the EU to negotiate different economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with regional ACP sub-groups. This provision was needed for the partnership to be brought into compliance with the World Trade Organisation's rules.

Negotiations for an EPA with the members of the East African Community (EAC) – at the time: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda – were finalised in October 2014. South Sudan, which joined the EAC in 2016, did not take part in the negotiations, but can join the agreement once it comes into force.

Once it entered into force, the EU-EAC EPA would provide immediate duty-free, quota-free access to the EU market for all EAC exports, combined with partial and gradual opening of the EAC market to imports from the EU. The EPA contained detailed provisions on sustainable agriculture and fisheries, rules of origin, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures. The parties were committed to concluding additional negotiations within five years of the entry into force of the agreement.

The signing of the EPA has been stalled because of discussions within the EAC. Kenya is the only EAC country to have ratified the agreement, in order not to lose free access to the EU market. Other EAC member states, being least developed countries, still enjoy free access and some of them have pushed for further clarifications on the consequences of the EPA for their economies before the EAC endorsed the agreement.

Author: Eric Pichon

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