In August 2009, four of these countries signed the agreement (Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe). They have been applying it on an interim basis since May 14, 2012. Comoros signed the agreement in July 2017. It ratified and began implementing it in February 2019. The EPAs will therefore take specific steps for this specific group. Unlike other ACP countries, the smaller group is invited to reject EPAs and continue trade relations under the “Everything but Arms” (EBA) regulation. Launched in 2001 by the Council of Ministers, this change to the EC`s system of generalised preferences has since regulated trade relations between the EU and LDCs that have chosen to use this facility and allows all LDC products duty-free access to all LDC products, without any quantitative restrictions, except arms and ammunition. This provision, while facilitating the situation of LDCs under the new trading system, has also been criticised because the EBA initiative prevents LDCs from opening their markets to EU products under an EPA. Another weakness of the EBA initiative is that it uses the GSP`s rules of origin, which require a two-step transformation for textiles and clothing. On the other hand, the rules of origin of EPAs allow for a one-stage transformation of exports of these sectors.
This is one of the reasons why Mozambique and Lesotho (both LDCs) signed the SADC INTERIMs EPA in November 2007 and signed in July 2009. Angola (which is not the least witnessed in the configuration of the CDAA EPA) has decided to continue its trade under the EBA, as its main exports to the EU are oil and diamonds, which can enter duty-free and quota-free as “fully preserved” origin products in accordance with the EBA`s rules of origin. Tariffs on bilateral merchandise trade between the UK and ESA countries will continue to apply after the agreement comes into force. However, in some cases, non-preferential rates may be lower due to changes to the most favoured nation scale in the United Kingdom. The agreement is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2021 (or as soon as possible). In January 2013, the European Parliament approved the agreement. The agreement remains open to other countries that wish to join at a later date. It will also be possible to use and process materials from other countries and territories covered by Article 3 of the original protocol. Here too, you must ensure that the work or transformation you are doing in the UK goes beyond the minimum operations mentioned in the agreement and that the other relevant conditions are met.
Because of the WTO`s persistent incompatibility with previous agreements, the main feature of EPAs is their reciprocity and non-discriminatory nature.