The creation of a reciprocal trade agreement puts the EU at the forefront of how to reconcile the ACP Group`s special status 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. In Africa, EPAs support the implementation of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, launched in September 2018. These are key instruments of the EU`s overall strategy with Africa. The economic pillar of this strategy sees trade – in addition to regional and continental economic integration – as an important element in promoting the sustainable development of African countries. The EU`s trade relations with ACP countries are governed by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement signed in 2000 between the EU, its member states and the ACP countries. As this political, economic and global development partnership expires in 2020, the parties are currently negotiating a successor agreement (the „post-Cotonou“). 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. 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. [1] 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. The European Union`s (EU) Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with regional blocs of African countries (and some African countries) aim to promote more than simply boosting trade between the EU and African countries. They aim to promote sustainable development and poverty reduction, including supporting regional integration processes in Africa, encouraging the gradual integration of African economies into global markets, and improving the ability of African countries to take advantage of trade opportunities for economic growth.