The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the Southern African Development Community EPA Group was signed in June 2016 and came into effect in October 2016.

The SADC-EU EPA Group comprises the Southern African Customs Union countries – South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland – and Mozambique.  Angola has an option to join in the future.


The EPAs are trade and development schemes that emerged as the EU’s proposal for a World Trade Organization compatible alternative to replace the unilateral trade regime that has governed trade among the EU and African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries for 40 years.

The EU and South Africa began working with the southern SADC region towards a full EPA in 2007. Negotiations were concluded in 2014.

For South Africa, the EPA substitutes the chapter on trade in the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA).


Before the signing of the EPA, from 2000 South Africa-European Union trade relations were governed by the trade chapter of the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement.

The TDCA provided a solid basis for trade, boosting trade exponentially. The EU has remained South Africa’s main trading partner since then.

More than 15 years of SA-EU engagement through the TDCA has shown that a binding agreement with common goals deepens understanding, improves the business environment, and creates a platform for resolving differences and pursuing common objectives.

EPAs are permanent, with no end date, providing potential exporters and investors, whether local or foreign, with stability.


The SADC-EU EPA Outreach South Africa initiative supports the implementation of the agreement in South Africa by providing information on its potential benefits. It comprises the Delegation of the EU to South Africa, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the South African Revenue Service. It is funded by the EU.

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