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Mining and free trade in Eritrea

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Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki has guarded his country jealousy since independence, pushing a self-reliant attitude that encourages Eritreans to rebuild Eritrea for themselves.

But in order to develop the potentially lucrative mining and trade sectors, he will have to open up the country more to foreign money and therefore possible foreign influence.

The government intends to launch free trade zones at its main ports in Massawa and Assab on its Red Sea coast, and dozens of firms, including from China, India and Dubai, have already registered to operate there to take advantage of the bustling cargo shipping lanes.

Reserves of gold, zinc and copper have been found in Eritrea and analysts are predicting a mining boom. Fourteen foreign firms are exploring in the country and the first project is expected to start producing gold by late 2010.

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