Written by Eric Pichon,

International Agreements in Progress: Economic Partnership Agreement with the East African Community
© European Union, 2018

The current ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (the ‘Cotonou Partnership Agreement’) features 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 Organization’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 enters into force, the EU-EAC EPA will 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 contains detailed provisions on sustainable agriculture and fisheries, rules of origin, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures. The parties are 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 endorses the agreement.

Free trade agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Australia, of the other part
Committee responsible: International Trade (INTA) 2016/0038(NLE)
Rapporteur: Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL, Germany)

international agreements in progress

Read the complete briefing on ‘Economic Partnership Agreement with the East African Community‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

EU trade with the East African Community (total goods, trade flows and balance), 2006-2016, € million
EU trade with the East African Community
Map 1 – East African Community member states
East African Community member states