After over twelve years of controversial discussions, in the second half of 2014 three African negotiating groups, namely West Africa, East African Community, and South African Development Community, have concluded the negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union (EU). In the case of West Africa the text has been initialled and endorsed for signature by ECOWAS Heads of States on 10th July 2014; whereas in the case of the East African Community and the South African Development Community, the texts are currently being “legally scrubbed” and prepared for signature.
Negotiations are still on-going in the two remaining blocks of Central Africa, and Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), where outstanding issues include market access, rules of origin, development assistance, as well as other more specific controversial subjects such as export taxes, special agricultural safeguards, export subsidies, and non-execution clause. Yet, nearly all non-LDC countries in the Central African and ESA region (which may have risked losing preferential access to the EU market with the withdrawal of market access regulation MAR 1528/2007), had already signed interim EPAs prior to October 2014. That was the case of Cameroon, which signed the “interim EPA” in 2007, and of Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Zimbabwe, which did the same in 2009