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After more than 10 years of negotiations under the umbrella of the Cotonou Agreement, the European Union (EU) and six members of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) known as the SADC EPA Group1 concluded talks on a new economic partnership agreement (EPA). The negotiations came to an end when negotiators initialed an agreed text in July 2014.
In October 2015 the parties completed a process of verification to ensure the legal soundness of the provisions. On 10 June 2016, the agreement was signed in Kasane, Botswana, and on 10 October 2016, the agreement entered into application between the EU and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
EPAs are reciprocal trade agreements between the EU and a number of regional groupings from among the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries2 under which all parties commit to trade liberalisation, but under which ACP countries can exempt sensitive products from liberalisation so as to take account of their level of development.