The EU is implementing seven economic partnership agreements with 32 partners, 14 of which are in Africa. The main objective of EPAs is the leverage of trade and investment for sustainable development. The content of the agenda will be expanded, with agreements covering new themes such as services and investment. The EU`s trade relations with ACP countries are governed by the Cotonou Partnership Agreement signed in 2000 between the EU, its member states and the ACP countries. As this political, economic and global development partnership expires in 2020, the parties are currently negotiating a successor agreement (the “post-Cotonou”). It is more of a free trade agreement (FTA), as it contains a strong development component, with clear links with development assistance for the adaptation and modernization of Cariforum economies. The EPAs will therefore take specific steps for this specific group. Unlike other ACP countries, the smaller group is invited to reject EPAs and continue trade relations under the “Everything but Arms” (EBA) regulation. Launched in 2001 by the Council of Ministers, this change to the EC`s system of generalised preferences has since regulated trade relations between the EU and LDCs that have chosen to use this facility and allows all LDC products duty-free access to all LDC products, without any quantitative restrictions, except arms and ammunition. This provision, while facilitating the situation of LDCs under the new trading system, has also been criticised because the EBA initiative prevents LDCs from opening their markets to EU products under an EPA.
Another weakness of the EBA initiative is that it uses the GSP`s rules of origin, which require a two-step transformation for textiles and clothing. On the other hand, the rules of origin of EPAs allow for a one-stage transformation of exports of these sectors. This is one of the reasons why Mozambique and Lesotho (both LDCs) signed the SADC INTERIMs EPA in November 2007 and signed in July 2009. Angola (the least less than the least of the products in the CDAA EPA configuration) has decided to continue its activities under the EBA, as its main exports to the EU are oils and diamonds, which can enter duty-free and quota-free as “fully preserved” origin products in accordance with the EBA`s rules of origin. Free trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement provide for duty-free trade in goods and services between nations and the removal of other trade barriers.