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Taxation and Customs Union

The Countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP)


Trade preferences available to the African, Caribbean and Pacific States having concluded WTO-compatible agreements with the EU.

For general information on trade and development issues in relation to the ACP States you may consult the websites of DG Development or DG Trade.

Exporters in developing countries may also be interested to see the Export Helpdesk for Developing Countries of DG TRADE.

Situation before 31 December 2007

The trade, aid and political agreement signed in Cotonou, Benin in June 2000 between the 77 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States and the EC has set ambitious goals for the next 20 years. The Agreement foresees Economic Partnership Agreements that will set up an entirely new framework for trade and investment flows between the EU and contracting ACP States.

Under the Cotonou Agreement, trade preferences were granted unilaterally by the European Union. The rules of origin stipulated the conditions under which this preferential access was to be enjoyed by the beneficiary countries.

Annex V of the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement, among which the Protocol concerning the definition of the concept of 'originating products' and methods of administrative cooperation, expired on 31 December 2007.

Situation since 1 January 2008

There have been important changes since 1 January 2008 and depending on the outcome of the negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements with ACP countries additional changes are still to be expected.

The 35 ACP States which have initialled WTO-compatible agreements benefit from new arrangements (see below under subtitle Market Access Regulation - MAR). The remaining ACP States now benefit only from GSP.

See also the Notice to Community operators and the note to the customs administrations of Member States (which includes the list of countries benefiting from the new arrangements).

Market Access Regulation (MAR)

As of 1 January 2008 the provisions of the Market Access Regulation (MAR - Council Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007 of 20 December 2007) entered into force as a temporary unilateral scheme before the conclusion and application of the revised Economic Partnership Agreements. The MAR contains in its Annex I the list of regions or States which have concluded negotiations within the meaning of its art. 2 (2). It also contains a Protocol on rules of origin in its Annex II.

Operators may find the text of the MAR together with the protocol containing rules of origin here: Market Access Regulation

Specific provisions

NOTICE: Specific provisions only contain information on cases where the rules of the particular arrangement differ from the common provisions, or where these common provisions need to be complemented. Therefore, always check the common provisions.


For the purpose of defining the concept of originating products, the territories of the ACP are considered as one territory. This means that if a manufacturer in an ACP State uses materials from one or more other ACP States, the materials are treated no differently from those obtained in the ACP State in which he manufactures his products.

Cumulation with OCT and EC

Bilateral cumulation, diagonal cumulation and full cumulation are applicable

Cumulation with South Africa

The provisions relating to this kind of cumulation have not yet entered into force, pending the conclusions of agreements including identical rules of origin between the ACP States and South Africa . As soon as these arrangements are concluded the following cumulation may be applied:

Diagonal cumulation : When applying this system the products will only obtain ACP origin provided that the value added in the ACP exceeds the value of the materials originating in South Africa. If this is not the case the products shall be considered as originating in the South Africa.

Full cumulation : This system will apply between South Africa and other Member States of SACU (South African Customs Union, comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) provided that the materials undergo subsequent working or processing there.

Cumulation with neighbouring developing countries

At the request of the ACP States, materials originating in a neighbouring developing country, other than an ACP State, belonging to a coherent geographical entity may be considered as materials originating in the ACP States when incorporated into a product obtained there. Under certain specific conditions, it may not be required that such materials undergo sufficient working or processing.

Minimal operations

The operations that are considered as insufficient working or processing to confer the status of originating products are listed in Article 5 of Annex II to the MAR.

General tolerance rule

Non-originating materials, which, according to the list rules should not be used in the manufacture of a given product, can nevertheless be used provided their value does not exceed 15 % of the ex-works price of the final product.

List rules

Compared to the expired Cotonou regime, the MAR rules have been relaxed in the following areas: agriculture (Annex IIa), fisheries and textiles.


Drawback is not prohibited.

Proof of origin

  • a movement certificate EUR.1 issued by the customs authorities
  • a declaration given by an approved exporter or by any exporter provided that the total value of the products does not exceed € 6 000
Validity of proof of origin

A proof of origin is valid for ten months.

Exemption from proof of origin

When the total value of the imported products does not exceed € 500 in the case of small packages or € 1 200 in the case of products forming part of personal luggage.


A derogation is simply a temporary lessening or relaxation of the law or the rules, therefore allowing preferential treatment to be accorded to products which may not strictly satisfy the criteria for "originating products".

Derogations were granted on the basis of art. 36 of the MAR to Swaziland for core spun yarns and for preserved tuna and/or tuna loins from Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar and Kenya, the validity of which was until 31.12.2008.

Currently a pragmatic and global approach is under scrutiny, which should allow extending the validity of the derogations for tuna and yarn granted in 2008 until the date of entry into force or provisional application of the respective interim EPAs.

CARIFORUM-EC Economic Partnership Agreement

As outlined in the notice OJ L 352 (p. 62) of 31.12.2008 concerning the provisional application of the CARIFORUM-EC EPA, as of 29 December 2008 the rules of origin laid down in Protocol I of the EPA superseded those contained in Annex II of the Market Access Regulation (MAR) regarding exportations from the 14 EPA signatories: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.

  • Bilateral and diagonal cumulation can currently be applied in the framework of this agreement.
  • Cumulation with neighbouring developing countries can only be decided in the future by the Special Committee on Customs Cooperation and Trade Facilitation upon request from CARIFORUM States.
  • There are time limited exclusions from cumulation for rice, sugar and products with high sugar content.

The specific changes in the list rules are in the following chapters: Ex1806, 2007, 2009, 2106, 2202, 2402, chapters 50 to 59, and 8415. Operators may find the text of the CARIFORUM-EC EPA together with the Protocol on rules of origin here: CARIFORUM-EC EPA

Interim Economic Partnership Agreements

Interim EPAs with the following regions are expected to enter into force or be provisionally applied in 2009:

  • SADC (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland)
  • PACIFIC (Fiji, Papua New Guinea)
  • ECOWAS (Ghana, Ivory Coast)
  • CEMAC (Cameroon)
  • ESA (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zambia, Zimbabwe)
  • EAC (Burundi, Kenya, Ruanda, Tanzania, Uganda)