In Africa, epAs support the implementation of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, which was launched in September 2018. They are key instruments of the EU`s global strategy for Africa. The economic pillar of this strategy identifies trade – alongside regional and continental economic integration – as important elements in promoting the sustainable development of African countries. The Labour Agreements, as provided for in the Cotonou Agreement, should build on and promote regional integration processes in acp countries. The existing ACP regional associations served as a basis for the EPA negotiations. However, due to the overlap of country members in several African Regional Economic Communities (RECs), countries had to make a choice. With the exception of ECOWAS and the EAC, which are in a more advanced state of integration (they have a customs union), the other African RECs have therefore not negotiated with all their members. COMESA member countries negotiate as Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), with 11 members out of their 19 members. It is important to note that two COMESA members, namely Egypt and Libya, are non-ACP countries and therefore did not participate in the EPA negotiations. The other COMESA countries have negotiated within SADC (Swaziland), EAC (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda) or Central Africa (DR Congo). Similarly, the SADC-EPA group was composed of 7 countries out of 15 members. Among these, the South African Customs Union (SACU), a customs union, negotiated as a group when South Africa began negotiations in 2007.
The others negotiated in Central Africa (DRC), EAC (Tanzania) and ESA (Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe). In Central Africa, the EPA Group consists of a total of 8 members. These are the 6 members of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), a customs union, namely Gabon, Cameroon, Auto, Chad, the Congolese Republic and Equatorial Guinea and two other countries, DR Congo (not CEMAC, but member of the Economic Community of Central African States – ECCAS, SADC and COMESA) and Sao Tome and Principe (observer status only with CEMAC and member of ECCAS). West Africa has negotiated with the 15 full members of ECOWAS (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Côte d`Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo) and Mauritania. East Africa negotiated until 2006 as a bloc within the East African Community within the framework of ESA and from 2007 as an independent group with its 5 full members. The entry into force of an agreement is a long process: it requires signature, ratification and implementation, and can sometimes take years. Therefore, in order to prevent trade disruptions until the entry into force of the EPAs, a Market Access Regulation (MAR 1528/2007) was adopted by the EU on 20 December 2007, provisionally applying the EU EPA preferences from 1 January 2008 to countries that have concluded such an agreement but have not yet signed, ratified and implemented their agreements. The EU then decided in May 2013, with Regulation (EU) No 527/2013, to amend the MAR to exclude from 1 October 2014 countries that have not taken the necessary steps to ratify the EPA concluded in 2007.
Therefore, these countries had to do so or conclude a new (regional) EPA to be reintegrated under MAR 1528/2007. For those who did not do so before 1 October 2014, they will automatically be subject to the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) after that date, a differentiated preferential trade regime that the EU unilaterally grants to all developing countries. .