Trade relations

The EU is committed to helping the Eastern and Southern Africa region further integrate into the world’s trading system so that it can benefit from the global economy.

The EU is convinced that international trade is part of the path to sustained economic growth and development and that developing countries need to make trade a high priority in their development strategies and tackle some structural problems in their economies which hamper business activity. For example, high transport costs, slow customs and inefficient financial systems are all barriers to trading effectively in today’s fast-paced global market.

In order to achieve the above objective, the European Union can mobilize different tools:

  • Investments: The European Investment Bank (EIB) has been a development partner in most ACP countries for some 30-40 years. Current EIB-ACP cooperation is based on the Cotonou Agreement (link to page 041-01) that mandates the EIB to provide reimbursable aid to projects, alongside grant aid from the European Commission in 79 ACP countries and regions.
  • Aid for Trade: Aid for trade is financial assistance for developing countries and regions specifically targeted at helping them develop their capacity to trade, develop the basic productive capacity, institutional and economic infrastructure and tools they need to expand their trade.
  • Economic Partnership Agreement: recognising that unilateral preferences under Cotonou did not bring about meaningful diversification of their economies ACP partners agreed in 2000 to move towards the conclusion with the EU of reciprocal and WTO-compatible Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), progressively removing barriers to trade and enhancing cooperation in all areas related to trade.