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I agree completely that open trade agreements with most SSA nations are highly beneficial, *especially* in specific cases where high barriers to trade exist and are replaced with aid programs: What is the next policy step? How can a poor/corrupt country increase "higher education/literacy levels, government policies that enforce contracts and create a functioning credit market" in order to benefit from trade agreements? The abstract mentions Liberia and Mali as failed cases (where is Sierra Leone in this study?). I'd add that it opens these weak states up to predatory trade policies that hurt the truly poor and benefit/reinforce existing power structures (i.e. keeping the poor destitute while giving contracts to the already wealthy whether in government or in business or a combination of both as if often the case). The way many contracts are written (and this may be specific to my knowledge in Sierra Leone in the extractive industry); "open trade" usually means that the benefits (revenue through taxation) are often not distributed to infrastructure in the country, education or any other distribution of wealth in the country to raise the general level of poverty in the country. Rather, it tends to fund those in power (whether that be government leaders or the business community). In addition, corruption/facilitation fees at a basic level (ports and other entry areas) can diminish investor confidence and also decrease the benefits of trade as the revenue is not distributed in country. I would like to re-iterate that I am ideologically for open and fair trade agreements with SSA countries; *particularly* in lieu of aid policies; however I find this article important as it reinforces what anyone who has lived in these countries understands immediately: if the state is weak, those in power have the ability to negotiate contracts that are beneficial either to only themselves or; especially in post-conflict countries, the expertise may not be "in country" in order to negotiate complex contracts to benefit the country long term versus short term. Example: extractive industry in Sierra Leone; where the tax structure with the mining companies is a great example of free trade not benefiting the general populous and are currently under review for re-negotiation. Hopefully future oil contracts will have built in longer-term benefits to the country and be distributed fairly. Additionally, what is the prescription for a country that has no functioning credit system? It can take years to set this up from scratch and in the interim grants, trade agreements and all incoming revenue may not have a functioning proper coffer to be placed in nor an accounting system to log it. As stated, on a micro level, a lack of a basic credit system eliminates the possibility for small businesses to grow, forcing many to be funded through outside sources (notably UK, Lebanon, USA), which restrict overall access to much needed capital to a certain few. Again, a problem of distribution. In the interim trade is very important for these countries, agreed. But what is the solution for countries that don't have the resources - either human or structural (literacy, credit system, contract reliability/recourse) - to enter into trade agreements in a way that benefits all?