The trade and development agreement concluded by the EU and four African states, Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles and Zimbabwe will take effect as from today, announced the European Commission. The Economic Partnership Agreement provides duty and quota free access to the EU market for exports from the four countries. Also these countries will gradually open their markets to European exports over the course of 15 years. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht commented that \"Today, our first interim Economic Partnership Agreement with an African region is applied. With this trade deal we hope to accompany the development of our partners in Eastern and Southern Africa and open up better and lasting business opportunities.\"