The EU is implementing seven economic partnership agreements with 32 partners, 14 of which are in Africa. The main objective of EPAs is the leverage of trade and investment for sustainable development. The content of the agenda will be expanded, with agreements covering new themes such as services and investment. Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are trade and development agreements negotiated between the EU and countries and regions in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). The Economic Partnership Agreements are a system for creating a free trade area between the European Union and the Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP). This is a response to persistent criticism that the EU`s proposed non-reciprocal and discriminatory preferential trade agreements are incompatible with WTO rules. The EPAs date back to the signing of the Cotonou Agreement. EPAs with different regions are in different playing conditions. In 2016, the EPAs were to be signed with three regional economic communities in Africa (East African Community, Economic Community of West African States and Southern African Development Community), but these faced challenges.  EPAs with sub-Saharan Africa and other EU free trade agreements with North African countries are building blocks of the Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) and the long-term prospect of a free trade agreement between continental countries.
The EPAs already contain useful trade instruments for the construction of the AfCFTA. They provide a strong framework for regional trade and investment between THE EPA partners themselves and with the EU. They also strengthen the commercial capacity of EU partners. Taxation and Customs:ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/business/international-affairs/international-customs-cooperation-mutual-administrative-assistance-assistance-assistance-japan_en The creation of a reciprocal trade agreement places the EU at the question of how to reconcile the special status of the ACP group with the EU`s WTO commitments. The near-solution solution to this dilemma is an agreement that is reciprocal only in the way necessary to meet wto criteria. In reality, ACP countries will have some leeway and maintain limited protection of their key products. The extent to which trade should be liberalised under the new EPAs remains a highly controversial issue and it remains to be seen whether the WTO provisions governing regional trade agreements will be revised at the end of the Doha Round in favour of the EPA system. This document is based on de Melo and Regolo (2013). This document received financial support from ferDI (Foundation for International Development Studies and Research) and the French government`s “Investment of the Future” (an ANR-10-LABX-14-01 reference). Thanks also to the Intergovernmental Conference for Financial Support and to Céline Carrére, Augustin Fosu, Anne-Marie Geourjon, Richard Newfarmer and a commentary referee. It is here that the opinions of the authors who take responsibility for all the remaining errors are expressed. Because of the WTO`s persistent incompatibility with previous agreements, the main feature of EPAs is their reciprocity and non-discriminatory nature.
These include the phasing out of all trade preferences introduced between the EU and ACP countries since 1975 and the phasing out of trade barriers between partners. To meet the test for a non-discriminatory agreement, EPAs are open to all developing countries, thus ending the ACP group as the EU`s main development partner. EU-Japan trade: ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/japan/ The Cotonou Agreement offers the EU and ACP countries the opportunity to negotiate development-oriented free trade agreements, known as Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).