The signing of the United Kingdom – Eastern Southern African States’ Economic Partnership Agreement (UK-ESA EPA)

January 31, 2019

Seychelles, has signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the United Kingdom (UK). An agreement, aiming to reflect continuity of the trade relationship between the UK and Seychelles following the envisaged exit of the UK from the European Union (EU).  

The signature of the Agreement took place at the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London with Ambassador Beryl Samson, Ambassador of the Republic of Seychelles to the Kingdom of Belgium, signing on behalf of the Republic of Seychelles and Minister George Hollingbery MP, Minister of State for Trade Policy on the UK side.  

Seychelles’ exports to the EU is currently granted duty free quota free treatment upon entry into the European market, due to the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA). The IEPA was signed with the EU in 2009, and entered into force in 2012.

And along with the preferential market access in the EU market, the EU imports into Seychelles are also granted preferential access over a phase down period lasting to 2022, whilst duties on a list of products of national interest were maintained indefinitely. Additionally, the IEPA with the EU was also signed by Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Madagascar and most recently the Comoros namely the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) signatories.

Following the UK’s notification of intention to withdraw from the EU on 29th March 2017, with an expectation to officially depart from the EU on the 29th March 2019, it became necessary that the current provisions of the IEPA be transposed into a bilateral agreement between ESA signatories and the UK. These Parties commenced negotiations in September 2017 to transpose the EU-ESA IEPA into an EPA between the UK and the ESA states before UK officially exits the EU.

In December 2018, the final work on the text of the UK-ESA EPA was completed followed by the approval of the Seychelles Cabinet of Ministers on the11th January, 2019 for signature.

It is expected that this Agreement will be tabled to the National Assembly for ratification upon its return from recess.

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