Skip to main content

Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA)

Country or region
  • African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP)
  • Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA)
Trade topics
  • Economic Partnerships
  • Negotiations and agreements
  • Trade policy

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

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

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

Trade picture

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

The EU and Eastern and Southern Africa

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

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

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

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

  • getting rid of EU duties and quotas for imports from these countries
  • gradually opening up EU exports to these countries
  • rules of origin, fisheries, and trade defence
  • rules on development cooperation
  • mechanisms for settling disputes

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

The interim EPA includes a rendez-vous clause for negotiating other trade-related areas such as rules and commitments on services and investment, sustainable development and competition (known as the ‘deepening’ process). The five countries already applying the agreement have declared their readiness to move beyond trade in goods, towards a more comprehensive agreement. Negotiations to deepen the EPA launched on 2 October 2019. The interim EPA also includes co-operation on technical barriers to trade, and standards on animal and plant health.

See how the interim Economic Partnership Agreement is benefitting exporters in Eastern and Southern Africa.

With regard to the Protocol on Rules of Origin, in January 2020, the EPA Committee decided to amend the concept 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 others, more flexibility while saving 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.

Trading with Eastern and Southern Africa

Latest news