EU trade relations with Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA)

Eastern and Southern Africa includes the Indian Ocean islands (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles), countries in the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan) and some countries in Southern Africa ( Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe).

All countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa region, with the exception of Eritrea, are members or observers negotiating their accession to the WTO.

Eastern and Southern African countries: Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Commercial picture

  • Exports to the EU from the Eastern and Southern Africa region are dominated by sugar, coffee, fish, tobacco, copper and crude oil.
  • EU imports to the Eastern and Southern Africa region are dominated by machinery and mechanical appliances, equipment, vehicles and pharmaceuticals.

The EU and Eastern and Southern Africa

Six ESA countries – Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe – concluded an Interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU at the end of 2007.

In August 2009, four of these countries signed the agreement (Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe). They have applied it provisionally since 14 May 2012. The Comoros signed the agreement in July 2017. They ratified it and started applying it in February 2019.

In January 2013, the European Parliament gave its consent to the agreement. The agreement remains open to other countries wishing to join later.

The Interim Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe includes:

  • remove EU customs duties and quotas for imports from these countries
  • gradually open EU exports to these countries
  • rules of origin, fisheries and trade defense
  • rules on development cooperation
  • dispute resolution mechanisms

More information on the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe

The interim EPA includes a rendezvous clause to negotiate other trade-related areas such as rules and commitments on services and investment, sustainable development and competition (known as the “d ‘deepening’). The five countries that already apply the agreement have declared their readiness to go beyond trade in goods towards a more comprehensive agreement. Negotiations to deepen the EPA were launched on October 2, 2019. The interim EPA also includes cooperation on technical barriers to trade and animal and plant health standards.

Find out how the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement benefits exporters in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Regarding the Protocol on Rules of Origin, in January 2020, the EPA Committee decided to modify the notion of originating product with a view to simplifying and facilitating trade between the ESA region and the EU. The amendment, which entered into force in March 2020, allows economic operators to have, among other things, more flexibility while reducing costs.

Committees and dialogues

The EU and Eastern and Southern Africa meet regularly to discuss issues and best practices and oversee the proper functioning of the agreement.

Trade with East and Southern Africa

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