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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Africa Rejects EU Trade Deals

LISBON -- Most African leaders on Sunday rejected new trade deals demanded by the European Union, dealing a blow to efforts to forge a new economic partnership at the first EU-Africa summit in seven years.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade bluntly dismissed Brussels' pressure to impose new trade deals by Dec. 31, when a waiver by the World Trade Organization on preferential trade for developing countries expires.

The EU wants to replace expiring trade accords with so-called Economic Partnership Agreements or temporary deals, which anti-poverty groups have criticized for failing to provide protection for Africa's poor farmers and its fragile industry.

"We are not talking any more about EPAs, we've rejected them ... we're going to meet to see what we can put in place of the EPAs," Wade said on the second and final day of the summit on the banks of Lisbon's Tagus River.

While about a dozen African countries have recently agreed on interim trade deals with the EU, most African leaders argue that they need more time to prepare their weaker economies and societies for the impact of the end of preferential trade arrangements.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso rejected the African charge that Brussels had strong-armed countries over trade, saying in a statement that it was "indispensable to safeguard trade flows" between Europe and Africa after Dec. 31.