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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission has struck a trade deal with Zambia that will give the southern African country full access to European Union markets, the EU executive said on Wednesday.

The 27-nation European Union has struck deals with poor African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to replace former trade arrangements deemed illegal by the World Trade Organisation.

“This agreement improves access to European markets for Zambian exporters. It thus provides Zambia with new development tools, fosters its economic growth and increases its integration in the global economy,” EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said in a statement.

Zambia and the EU initialled the deal on Tuesday, the European Commission said.

The EU will sign an Economic Partnership Agreement with the Caribbean region on October 15, the Commission said, adding it hoped to sign more of the initialled interim deals later this year and early next year.

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