Trade with Eastern and Southern African (ESA) States

How you import from and export to the ESA states.

ESA-UK Economic Partnership Agreement

The UK has signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with some Eastern and Southern African (ESA) states, which is in effect.

The ESA states covered by this EPA are:

  • Mauritius
  • Seychelles
  • Zimbabwe

The following ESA states will be covered by the EPA if they sign it and bring it into effect:

  • Madagascar
  • Comoros
  • Zambia

EPAs are principally development-focused trade agreements that aim to promote increased trade and investment. They contribute to sustainable growth and poverty reduction in developing countries.

This guidance provides information on aspects of trade covered by the ESA-UK EPA. It is for UK businesses trading with the ESA states.

What the agreement includes

The UK commits to providing immediate duty-free, quota-free access to goods exported from the ESA states.

In exchange, the ESA states commit to gradual tariff liberalisation of goods. Some domestically sensitive products in the ESA states are excluded from tariff liberalisation.

This EPA includes provisions on:

  • trade in goods - including provisions on preferential tariffs, tariff rate quotas and rules of origin
  • trade in services
  • government procurement

Tariff rates on goods

Tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and the ESA states continue to apply as set out in the agreement. However, in some cases, the non-preferential applied rates may in fact be lower because of changes in the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff schedule.

You can use online tools trade with the UK and check how to export goods to check product-specific and country-specific information on tariffs and regulations that currently apply to UK trade in goods. These tools are regularly updated to reflect any changes.

Rules of origin

Claiming preferential rates for your exports from the UK

Unless you are permitted to provide an origin declaration, you need to fill in a certificate of origin to claim preferential treatment.

The UK continues to use the EUR1 format for movement certificates with trade partners that have mutual FTAs with the EU, including the ESA States. These movement certificates are identical to those previously in use, but the place of origin on the certificate is now marked as the United Kingdom instead of the European Community. EUR1 certificates of origin that have been updated to show the UK are now available from your usual provider, such as the chambers of commerce.

If you previously used the EUR1 form with a mutual EU trading partner, you can use the new EUR1 form that shows the UK as the place of origin.

Using EU materials and processing in your exports to the ESA States

You can use EU materials or processing in your exports to the ESA States. The UK and ESA States must have fulfilled the necessary requirements set out in the Rules of Origin Protocol. You must also ensure the working or processing you do in the UK goes beyond the minimal operations listed in the agreement and that the other relevant conditions are met.

For example, you cannot simply package or label a product from the EU and export it to the ESA States as a good originating in the UK.

See the list of minimal operations in Article 8 of the Rules of Origin Protocol in the UK-ESA Economic Partnership Agreement text.

The ability to consider materials from, or processing carried out in, another country as originating when incorporated into your product is called cumulation.

Using materials and processing from other countries in your exports to ESA States

It is possible to use materials from, and processing carried out in, the other countries and territories referenced in Article 3 of the Rules of Origin Protocol. Again, you must ensure that the working or processing you do in the UK goes beyond the minimal operations listed in the agreement and that the other relevant conditions are fulfilled.

Sending your goods to ESA States through the EU and other countries

Goods transited through the EU, and any other country with whom cumulation is applicable, are not subject to the same restrictions as those in transit through other third countries.

For example, you can split a consignment in the EU when exporting goods to ESA States, provided the goods comprising the consignment have not been entered into free circulation in the EU.

Transit through any other third country is possible provided your goods remain under customs surveillance and do not undergo operations other than unloading, reloading or any operation designed to preserve them in good condition.

ESA States yet to apply the agreement

The agreement currently does not apply to Comoros, Madagascar and Zambia.

The agreement will apply after these countries have respectively signed and ratified the agreement.

Comoros, Madagascar and Zambia are eligible for the UK Generalised Scheme of Preferences. This means that all goods imported from Comoros, Madagascar and Zambia are eligible for quota-free access and nil rates of import duty. This does not apply to arms and ammunition.

Further information

Find further guidance on exporting.

Find out how the Northern Ireland Protocol can affect your business.

Freight forwarding may save you time and money if you’re exporting large volumes of goods or high value items by sea or air freight. Find out more about freight forwarders.

This guidance is for information only. You should consult your legal advisers if you wish to ensure you understand the legal implications of trading for your business.


If you have queries about trade, contact the Department for International Trade (DIT).

Should you wish to speak to someone directly, we have local trade offices based around the UK. Within each office you can contact an international trade advisor. Find your local trade office.

Published 8 August 2019
Last updated 17 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated following a content review.

  2. Updated to reflect Zambia’s position in relation to the EPA.

  3. Updated the section on when the agreement is expected to take effect as Comoros and Madagascar have not yet signed and ratified the agreement.

  4. Page updated to provide detailed guidance on how to trade with Eastern and Southern African (ESA) States from 1 January 2021. This includes information on import tariff rates and rules of origin.

  5. First published.