Mauritania has become the 15th West African country to have signed the region-to-region Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, an agreement negotiated with 16 countries of the region.

Once signed by Nigeria, the Agreement will be submitted for ratification by both sides. Meanwhile, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have already opted to apply bilateral agreements with the EU, awaiting the regional EPA with West Africa to be in place.

EPAs aim to promote trade between the EU and African states and contribute to sustainable development and increased investment, creating new jobs and helping to reduce poverty.

As outlined in the new Africa-Europe alliance for sustainable investment and jobs, launched by President Juncker on the occasion of the State of the Union address, the long-term perspective is to create a comprehensive continent-to-continent free trade agreement between the EU and Africa.

Economic Partnership Agreements and other trade regimes with the EU should be exploited to the greatest extent as building blocks to the benefit of such an African Continental Free Trade Area.

On 26 October 2018 a Joint EU-ACP (African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States) Ministerial Committee on Trade will take place in Brussels to discuss the state of play of the seven Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU and countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

The EU is already Africa’s biggest trading partner and the largest investor in Africa. However there remains a great deal of untapped potential in economic and trade relations both within Africa and between Africa and European Union.

Economic Partnership Agreements and other trade agreements and arrangements should significantly contribute to reach this potential.