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Vol 55 No 23

Published 21st November 2014

Rules of commercial engagement

After twelve years of wrangling, the EU finally concludes bilateral trade treaties with 44 Sub-Saharan countries

The European Union – the continent's biggest trading partner – has now signed up most sub-Saharan African countries to bilateral or regional Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA). The framework sets the stage for increasing liberalisation of trade and the reduction of tariffs. Only the disputed Western Sahara and strife-torn South Sudan and Somalia are outside the framework. African governments say that they are happy with the arrangements, which Brussels regards as essential. However, small farmers worry how the agreements will affect their livelihoods while others fear that the constraints on tariffs and import controls could limit the freedom of African governments to decide their economic policy.

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